Posts Tagged ‘ brandon inge ’

Brandon Inge Is My Hero, Part III

Still looking for video that truly tells the story of Brandon Inge’s remarkable visit with my friend’s little boy Noah, a patient at Mott’s Children’s Hospital who signed Brandon’s arm and asked him to hit a home run for him…which he did that night. I know ESPN came out to do a whole piece on Noah and Brandon, but I can’t find it anywhere online. Anyway, here’s some of the video:

And here’s a related story. Believe it or not, he’s done this once already before this season!

If you need the back story, go here and here.

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Brandon Inge Is My Hero, Part II

This is a completely unrelated update to an earlier post, but I don’t know how you don’t read this and well up a little bit.

In the moments after he homered Friday night, Brandon Inge broke down in the Tigers’ dugout.

“I lost it,” he said. “I was crying. That’s never happened to me during a game before.”

He wept because he was thinking of a 5-year-old named Noah.

Earlier Friday, Inge had spent 2 hours entertaining Noah at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

During their visit, Noah asked Inge to hit a home run for him Friday night.

On his first at-bat Friday night, on a 1-2 pitch from tough right-hander Matt Garza, Inge homered. The ball sailed well over the fence in left.

It was Inge’s 25th homer of the season and 121st of his career. As he talked about it Saturday, it seemed to have ascended near the top of his all-time list because of Noah.

Noah is a patient at Mott, but Saturday, he got some recreation. He was a guest of Inge’s at the Tigers game. A few times, Inge waved to him.

Inge said Friday night he was still fighting back the emotions when he made a throwing error the inning after his homer. But there was one thing about which he’d made no mistake: He’d come through for Noah.

I wish I could find the video online. If you do, please post a link.

(What makes this story even more inspiring for me is that I know personally someone who is very close to this special little guy.)

Brandon Inge Is My Hero

First, some disclosure: I’m not a baseball fan. I don’t even really have strong feelings one way or another about Brandon Inge the baseball player. But it’s difficult to be even a casual sports fan and not be impressed with his career’s work so far.

But I’m here to tell ya: Brandon Inge is my hero.

(Since I’m not a baseball fan, I might have some of the details that follow wrong, and I reserve the right to stand corrected, at least on the minutia.)

Inge came to the Detroit Tigers as an above-average catcher, but a below-average hitter. From what I can tell, this is not unheard of at catcher. If you can find someone who’s a good signal caller and great fielder, you can live with some subpar hitting if you have to.

A couple years in, it was clear to the Tigers that they had to make a position upgrade here. So they went out and got perennial star power in Pudge Rodriguez and signed him to a huge multi-million-dollar contract that a guy like Inge could only dream of.

I remember an interview Inge took with then sports talker WDFN during which Stoney asked him, “So what’s next for Brandon Inge? Where do you go from here?”

His reply: “I’m going to make the the team (Tigers).”

“At which position?” Stoney questioned.

“At catcher.”

You had to love his confidence, and his bravado. And his commitment. He wasn’t going to be denied, and he wasn’t going to concede anything…when no one would’ve blamed him for doing so. Instead, he committed to making the team, being its starting catcher, and/or contributing any way he could to help the Tigers win.

Of course, he could never start at catcher, not with Pudge there. So he eventually moved on to third base. Clearly, this was a stop-gap move by management, right? I mean, Inge was never destined to man the hot corner full time, yes? Play third base, he did. And did it well enough to stick around for a while.

It would be a few years and the Tigers would be parting ways with their all-star catcher Pudge. Who would be behind the plate? Why, Inge, of course. And then some.

Inge completed his eighth season with the Tigers in 2008, showing his versatility as he saw action at four positions: catcher (60 games), third base (51 games), left field (two games) and center field (13 games). Perhaps most remarkably, he did not commit an error in his first 110 games of the season, from March 31-September 26. Yes, at multiple positions.

This past off-season, the talking heads on TV and radio complained that Inge couldn’t even “bat his weight,” and the Tigers again needed to make a move there. Fast forward to 2009, the player known for finishing the season in the very low .200s is now batting .268, with a .360 on-base percentage, and with a .515 slugging percentage. Never known as a power hitter, he leads the team in home runs, is among the American league leaders in that category, and competed (well, he was there…and tried) in the All Star Game’s Home Run Derby.

Of course, tonight he participates in the 2009 All Star Game itself—not as the Tigers’ lone obligatory delegate. Rather, because he earned it, and because he was voted in by the fans.

Not too bad for someone the Tigers have been looking to bench or discard for years.

Which finally gets back to why a baseball player few outside of Detroit have heard of (until now) can possibly be the hero of a non-baseball-following Detroiter. This guy will not be denied. He is a testament to self-confidence, perseverance, persistence and commitment to excellence.

It doesn’t take a baseball fan to recognize and admire those traits.