This article was written by Scott Kindberg and first published by The Post-Journal.
In the middle of the seventh inning of a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game earlier this week, a group of folks gathered near the third-base dugout at Diethrick Park and led the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Two of the vocalists were John and Charlie Delfin of Mississauga, Ontario.
Visiting Jamestown for the first time, the father-son duo were in the midst of a week-long baseball odyssey that took them to a different ballpark each night.
To suggest that their trip to Chautauqua County was their most memorable would be a huge understatement.
Greg Peterson and Randy Anderson, members of the Jamestown Community Baseball LLC board of directors, met John and Charlie before Wednesday’s Tarp Skunks’ game against Niagara.
Peterson provided the guests with tickets and meals to the pregame tent party. After Anderson, Bruce and Julie Dudgeon, and Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel joined their new Canadian friends for the picnic, Anderson gave them a tour of the press box.
But the royal treatment was just getting started. By first pitch, Charlie, who will be a sixth-grader this fall, was sitting with his dad next to the Tarp Skunks’ dugout, serving as the team bat boy. John was the bench coach, sporting a team jersey.
Smiles were everywhere.
Kindness was, too.
Because there’s a backstory to this night at the ballpark.
“Charlie hasn’t really been much of a sports guy, which has killed me over the years as I absolutely love sports,” John said in an email. “My dad and I, baseball was our thing. He coached my little league team year after year and we would constantly be playing catch any time and everywhere.”
John’s dad pitched for an all-star team from the Philippines and he would play against the U.S. Army teams as he was growing up.
“Needless to say, he loves the sport,” John said of his father, “(but) sports have been a difficult thing for Charlie to gravitate to with his ADHD. The attention span just isn’t there to hold his attention, so we’ve found other things to connect on.”
So every sporting event that John and Charlie attend requires that they be armed with tablets and mobile phones with earphones to make sure that Charlie has something to do during the games.
The Delfins have had other hurdles to clear, too. Charlie lost his mother at 11 months to cancer and, according to John, “we have been picking up our lives and working through that whole scenario.
“While I thought he’d be young enough to have it not impact him, living without his mom has had a profound impact on him,” added John, a middle-school teacher in Mississauga. “And as we move on in life, we find more and more and work through each thing as it comes.”
John said that when COVID-19 hit, they decided to blend families with John’s longtime girlfriend and her son.
“Doing this in the midst of pandemic times has been a struggle at times,” John said, “but we soldier on, step by step and find our way through life. We are all planning a wedding in December, and while there is excitement, I know it will be an emotional time as well.”
A weeklong baseball road trip turned out to be, too.
“I decided that, regardless of how Charlie felt about baseball, that we just needed to go out and do something this summer,” John said. “Something great for him and I. We again wouldn’t stay for full games, but the more and more we went along on this trip, the less the tablet came out, and the last couple of games, no tablet came out at all.
“And then we hit the Tarp Skunks. Honestly, I would have been so excited and content with the tickets that we got. Free dinner almost had me fainting. And … the Tarp Skunks organization just kept rolling out the carpet further and further for Charlie and I. I cannot get over it.”
Calling it an “experience of a lifetime,” John said the generosity that he and Charlie were shown will never be forgotten.
“I believe that God shows himself to me at times in my life through people I’ve interacted with in times that myself or Charlie have needed it,” John said. “You and everyone we met (Wednesday) night were that for us. In this time where people seem to be cynical and hateful, it was amazing to feel completely welcomed and loved by a community that we had just met. I am forever grateful.”
Who says there’s no crying in baseball.