By JOHN B. BRYAN
What a joy it was to experience Jason Parkerson’s meeting with Atlanta Braves pitcher Jeff Bennett on Thursday.
Jason has been a long-time supporter of Blue Devil athletics and most recently Woody Hunt’s right hand for the Bulldogs at Cumberland University. He may be one of the biggest Atlanta Braves fans in the Southeast.
Bennett, a Gordonsville product and Lebanon resident, has been in the big leagues for a couple of years after bouncing around in the minors for about nine years. Coach Hunt made it possible for the two to hook up last week for a few tosses and a lot of baseball talk about the Braves. Bennett has been working out at the Bulldog’s in-door hitting facility getting ready for spring training. “I wish a lot of my teammates had the heart of Jason, I wish I had the heart of Jason,” said Bennett about Parkerson and his attitude toward life. In just a few short minutes, about an hour to be exact, Bennett picked up on several different qualities the young 34-year-old possessed. “He always is smiling and it seems he has made the best of every situation he has found himself in. That tells you a lot about a person,” Bennett added.
Jason was born with Cerebral Palsy. He doesn’t walk exactly perfect and one of his arms is drawn up to his side. “Jim Abbot played ball and he didn’t have an arm,” Jason explained with a smile.
It was heartwarming to see the two throwing a baseball back and forth, exchanging Atlanta Braves stories, stats and history. Jason seemed to know more about Braves baseball than Bennett.
I left there thinking how wonderful it must have been for Jason to play catch with a major leaguer from the Braves. Somehow I think Jeff came away more touched than Jason.