Dear Junior Giants:
My name is David Crouse. I'm so proud & humbled that I was voted the 2021 Willie Mac Award Winner for my San Mateo Junior. Giants League.
I had the most amazing day of my life at the Giants game on Sunday, August, 15, 2021!
I've been a lifelong Giants fan…even though I'm only 15 years old!
See, I'm what society "labels me" as having "Special Needs' '. I have a rare condition called Congenital Hypotonia along with I'm "somewhere" on the Autism spectrum. I've never played "regular" sports yet I'm the biggest Bay Area sports fan you'll ever meet! My big brother (Parker) played 3 sports (football, soccer and baseball) at Hillsdale High School so I was able to attend his sporting events almost every day for many years to cheer him on…it was so much fun! I'm his biggest fan and I love him dearly!
What does "Special Needs" mean to me? It means that for most of my life people treat me "differently" since I have mental and physical delays.
Many times adults in society will just look away from me or ignore me… many kids will just stare at me as they try to figure out "what is wrong" with me. I'm guessing that I "look" normal until I open my mouth…my words aren't as clear as others and sometimes I'm just "a little louder" than I should be… but life is exciting and I like to share that excitement whenever I can….
I talk with anyone who will listen to a ''hello” or, "hi, my name is David, what is your name?". I learned to look people in the eyes, shake their hand with a firm hand grip from a friend of my family- Jerry Berkson. Whenever he would see me, it was a "teachable" moment as I would always ask him for a piece of gum (I love Gum especially at baseball games). Jerry wouldn't give me a piece of gum until I shook his hand with a firm shake and looked him in the eyes as we talked. An early life lesson that I've used everyday of my life….
Unfortunately, many people are taken back as I introduce myself as I ask them their name but I'm just being friendly and genuinely want to meet new people. Recently, I was at Krispy Kreme in Daly City with Parker. I introduced myself to a gentleman standing behind me in line. I was telling him all about the "amazing donuts" I wanted to try, suggesting some donuts that he might want to try as I was mesmerized by the hot donuts rolling off of the conveyor belt. When we went to pay, the gentleman threw down a $50 bill and told the cashier "please buy anything that David wants as he's the most amazing kid!". Wow- what an awesome guy! Not for the money, but for making me feel so special at that particular moment… I was beaming and gave him a big hug as a "thank you" for being so kind to me. In my mind there is no such thing as a "stranger" as there are only people I haven't met yet!
So, when my family signed me up for Junior Giants this summer, I was thrilled. What did this mean to me? It meant that Coaches, players and parents treated me "the same" as the rest of my amazing San Mateo Junior Giants Team. A big "thank you" to my Coaches as they were always upbeat, supportive and positive while my team thrived on learning the game. We had childhood fun playing the greatest game ever created! I was so thrilled to actually be on a team with "regular" kids and I cherished every moment….for a few hours each week I would put on my Junior Giants hat, jersey, and fill up my Giants water bottle. At that point each week on Tuesdays and Saturdays I was simply known as "Dave the Baseball Player"… like everyone else I was trying to hit "dingers" as I would imagine John Miller saying with emphasis "Adios Pelota"!!!! When my practices were over, we would all cheerfully say "goodbye"… I would then have to go back to my ever present label in society of being labeled as "Special Needs Dave"….
Then miraculously my life changed… I received the notification that I had won the "2021 Willie Mac Award" for my league. Wow! It has changed my life! A "Special Needs" player wins an award based on the highest honor that the SF Giants bestow among their players. Everyone I talk to knows about the "Willie Mac Award" and how special it is being named after one of the greatest SF Giants ever!
Somehow, it even gets better! The Giants Community Fund invited me to cheer behind the "Summer Sunday" show… this can't be real! I watch that show every Sunday….
In the last 24 hours, I think my parents told everyone they've ever met that "Dave will be on TV on Sunday… you need to tune in! Dave's a 2021 Willie Mac Award Winner"!
My family and I cried tears of joy recently as we are so thankful to the SF Giants and the Jr. Giants Organization.
With that in mind, I decided to sign my own baseballs and hand them out to the people that I admire the most within the SF Giants Organization as a small memento and token of my appreciation to simply say "thank you" for being a huge part of my life on radio & TV as I cheer on my favorite team every game…
While there seems to be so much negativity in the world, I want to share some hope, joy and gratitude to the SF Giants that mean so much to me on a daily basis during the baseball season…. I'm often "confused and lost" during the season when there is an "off day" as I miss everyone that has to do with "'My Team"… the current best team in MLB and 1st Place in the West…. The SF Giants!
Thank you to everyone for their support of Junior Giants as it really has created a life changing activity for many Bay Area kids (including myself).
Like winning an Academy Award, I will forever introduce myself as the "2021 Willie Mac Award Winner for the Jr. Giants- David Crouse!!!!!"