Brandon Parrent visited Suplizio Field Grand Junction, Colorado for the 2010 Junior College World Series while playing for Temple College. While he was there he met a young baseball player named Spencer Campbell. Spencer was a 10 year-old ballplayer in the Challenger Baseball League, a division of Little League Baseball for youths with mental and physical disabilities. Every year during the World Series, each Challenger are paired up with a player from one of the JUCO teams who help them bat, play the field, and learn the fundamentals of the game. When the JUCO players met the Challenger players for the first time, Brandon saw a shy Spencer and asked him to be his buddy.
After their day of baseball, Brandon went to dinner with Spencer and his parents David and Bev. Spencer eventually came to every game of the World Series to watch Brandon pitch. Before each game he brought Brandon a bottle of Gatorade straight to the dugout. Spencer saw Brandon earn two pitching wins for Temple College, and the two parted ways at the end of the tournament with a week of memories. Brandon put a framed picture of Spencer and himself in his home in Flower Mound, Texas and began to cross the country as he continued his career.
At the end of the World Series, Brandon had told the Campbells he was headed to Texas A&M the following season, and Spencer was able to follow his career and watch the Aggies in the 2011 College World Series. The Campbells found out online when Brandon was drafted by the White Sox, but, with no minor league team in Grand Junction, they figured they'd have to keep watching his progress from afar. The Rockies moving their Pioneer League Affiliate to Grand Junction changed that. With a new team in town, Spencer's mother Bev looked all over the internet to find where Brandon was playing and couldn't believe it when she found out he was returning to Grand Junction. "I didn't really know anything about who was in what team or what league, so I just had to look on every different team to find him. Spencer couldn't believe what we'd found."
When Brandon came to town to pitch against the Rockies, he didn't expect Spencer or the Campbells to remember him. Thanks to Bev's research, he was wonderfully wrong. Before the first game of the series, with Brandon scheduled as that night's starting pitcher, Spencer was once again waiting by the Dugout with a bottle of Gatorade. That moment "humbled me," said Brandon. "It really showed the impact I can have on people in a way that's more real than just playing the game. It brought back a lot of memories." Spencer hadn't than forget about Brandon's last visit. "He was so excited, I bet a fourth of Grand Junction knows about Brandon coming back," said Spencer's father David.
When I met him, Spencer was a very shy boy who usually gave one word answers to my questions. Though I was able to learn his favorite part of baseball was hitting, I wasn't able to get him to open up more about the game he loved. It was totally different when Brandon asked him about their visit. Immediately, Spencer's eyes lit up as he paged through the 2010 World Series program he'd saved. He knew all his favorite parts - Brandon's team picture, a flyer he had saved, a sticker - and at each place he told a special story. The connection built between Brandon and Spencer in just a few meetings two years ago had allowed him to transform into a new person in just a few seconds.
Brandon Parrent goes to work every day focused on being the best baseball player he can be. Someday, he may play in front of 50,000 screaming fans in one of Major League Baseball's great ballparks in Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, but the game can mean more than big ballparks and big contracts. Spencer is living proof of how the game can uplift the everyday life of real people. Thanks to this boy in Grand Junction, Brandon Parrent will never forget that baseball can mean more.