I might as well start off by saying that your induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame is well deserved after a great career as an Expo, Oriole, a Ranger and most importantly, an Angel. At least in my opinion.
So soccer was always big in my house. It still kind of is.
However, I always felt connected with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Even before I knew what baseball was.
Maybe it was because I was born in Anaheim or maybe it had to do with the fact that the Angels won the 2002 World Series on my third birthday. I wouldn't be able to tell you.
But I will tell you about how my passion for baseball grew.
I remember watching the games, whether it was with my grandpa at his house or watching it with my dad on the couch, I remember being fascinated with an outfielder from the Dominican Republic who wore my favorite number and would hit balls wherever they were. Yes, even the ones in the dirt that were almost impossible to hit.
Like many others, I was just amazed by your playing style, but I think what really grabbed my attention was your big smile.
Now, anyone who has ever seen you smile can honestly say that your smile is contagious. And also welcoming.
That smile welcomed a little girl into a whole different world that would soon capture her heart and attention.
I kept watching baseball in hopes of finding more guys like you. Not only did I find that, but I also ended up finding a lot more.
I found a whole new sport, new to me at least, that grabbed my attention. I found a true adoration for a team I always found myself rooting for. I found true love.
Your love for the sport of baseball radiated off of you. It could be seen in the smile you wore as you did what you loved. It was seen in the pride you had in yourself and the name on the front of your jersey. Even if it was your number on the back that quickly made me your favorite.
I probably cannot put into words how happy I was the day my mom brought me your jersey when I was in the 3rd grade. I was SO proud to have your jersey, even if it was in a girly pink. I was proud that your jersey was the first ever baseball jersey I had the honor of owning.
And trust me, I still have it. While it might fit a bit tight, I will still proudly wear it at any given time.
So I just want to tell you: thank you.
For being the first player to go in as an Angel into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For being a great person on and off the field.
And for teaching me what it's like to truly love and appreciate baseball.
A proud Angels fan.