Kevin Kiermaier has made quite a splash in his short tenure this season with the Tampa Bay Rays, not just with his bat but with an array of memorable catches. Yet the rookie outfielder could have a tough time topping the grab he made Tuesday morning at All Children’s Hospital.
Kiermaier had just stepped into the room of a 2-year-old patient named Steven, amid making the rounds with reliever Jake McGee to offer some smiles, words of support and autographed baseball cards.
At that very instant, Steven’s 6-year-old big brother, Carson, looked up from the TV show he was watching across the room. He's a quiet child so what happened next took everyone by surprise. He leaped off the couch and shouted, “KEVIN KIERMAIER!!”
Without missing a beat, Carson ran across the room and lunged into the 24-year-old ballplayer’s arms. Ever the defensive standout, Kiermaier caught hold of him and they hugged for several seconds – one more highlights-reel moment for the Rays newcomer.
Veteran athletes don’t often get that kind of reaction in their room-to-room visits. But Carson loves the Rays and he’s been paying close attention, it seems, to the play-making Kiermaier while watching the team’s games on the TV in his little brother’s hospital room.
All of sudden, there he was – the real-life baseball player, and Carson couldn't believe his eyes.
"He is never like that with anybody," said his mother, Tracy Knott. "He tends to be a little shy, especially with people he doesn't know."
“I was shocked to see him do that,” added his grandmother, Phyllis Knott, chuckling at the recollection. “He absolutely loves the Rays and watches them all the time, and he loves playing baseball.” Mostly he plays in the yard of his parents’ home in Clearwater, with grandma tossing him tennis balls and Carson giving them a whack.
But despite Carson’s interest in baseball and the Rays, she had no idea that he knew who Kevin Kiermaier was – or that he’d be so thrilled to see him. “And Kevin was so nice,” she added. “He embraced that moment for Carson, and that was really sweet of him to do.”
For Kiermaier, making his first visit to All Children’s, it was just as special.
“That’s very, very rare for a little kid to do that,“ he said. “For him to yell, ‘Kevin Kiermaier’ right when I walked in and then give me a hug, that was pretty wild. It was just really cool that he was so happy. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we come here, for times like that. It’s hard to put into words.”
No need. This time, a little boy said it all.
|Kevin Kiermaier! Rays rookie captures a memory with Tracey, Carson and Phyllis.|