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Follow Your Dreams: How Nolan Gorman Became One Family’s Favorite Player

Ask any fan who their favorite player is and they will tell you who. What happens though when you ask, "Why are they your favorite player?" Usually there will be some superficial answer related to stats or something else. Sometimes, however, there is an even more interesting story. A story that makes you smile. A story that maybe even makes you like that player as well. This is one of those stories.

It all started on June 18, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston. On a day when Cardinal legend Albert Pujols was honored by the Red Sox before the game, it would be rookie slugger Nolan Gorman that would make the biggest impact, at least for one young fan. In the top of the fourth inning, Gorman took a 1-2 pitch to straightaway center and parked it in the seats. The ball was caught by a woman who had been a Red Sox season ticket holder for 30 years. She had never gotten a baseball in the stands before.

One row ahead and a couple seats down from where the ball landed sat Ryan Jenkins with his wife Tess and their then one-year old son Marshall. Being Cardinal fans, Ryan asked if little Marshall could take a picture with the ball. The lady obliged. Marshall got to hold the ball and Ryan and Tess got an adorable picture of Marshall. That's not where the story ends though.

Marshall with Gorman’s HR ball. (Photo Courtesy of Ryan Jenkins)

A few innings later, Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader tossed a baseball to Ryan and his family. The woman who caught Gorman's ball offered to trade. Of course, Marshall's dad was happy to accept the offer. Ryan, co-host of the "That's A Winner" podcast, tweeted the picture out on the podcast's feed. The Cardinals just so happened to see the post and reached out to Ryan. The message? "Nolan saw the photo and would like to sign the ball for the kid."

It would take a month before they could get it set up, but eventually Marshall and his parents got to take a trip to the Cardinals clubhouse where they got to meet Nolan Gorman. Marshall was so excited. Not so much about meeting Nolan as he was about showing Nolan his Fredbird baseball card.

Marshall gives Gorman a five after showing off his Fredbird card. (Photo Courtesy of Ryan Jenkins)

As Ryan recalls, "When Marshall showed [Nolan Gorman] his baseball card he said, 'Who do you got there' and reached out for it. Marshall pulled it back like, 'Nope, you aren't taking my Fredbird card!'" Gorman then gave Marshall a fist bump. Ryan said it was a funny moment. "We took a family picture with Nolan and Marshall was still trying to talk to him about Fredbird."

The whole experience was Gorman's idea. Ryan and Tess couldn't be more thankful for what he did for little Marshall. They talked about playing in the big leagues and what it was like for Gorman to hit his first big league home run in the same game his childhood best friend Matthew Liberatore got his first big league win for the Cardinals. A game that Ryan was also in attendance for.

"It was a really cool experience and something we couldn't dream of," said Gorman.

Speaking of dreams, Gorman brought a bat with him out of the clubhouse. He asked how to spell Marshall's name and signed the bat, "To Marshall, Always follow your dreams. - Nolan Gorman"

A family pic with Nolan, and Marshall’s Fredbird card. (Photo Courtesy of Ryan Jenkins)

No doubt it was a day that Marshall and his parents will never forget. Says Tess about that day, "He is a lucky little boy, and he will think every game something awesome will happen to him." A major league ball player who has realized his dreams goes out of his way to positively impact the life of a young fan who has yet to start dreams of his own. It doesn't get much more awesome than that.

You can follow Ryan on the "That's A Winner" podcast on the Gateway City Sports Podcast Network.

Brian Swope is a staff writer and editor for Gateway City Sports. He is the host of the Yakker Jacks podcast and an IBWAA member.

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