Stephen is the glass genius who will be repairing the shattered windshield on my van. He was recommended by Rick of All Pro Automotive to work on the windshield of the car last summer. I’ve trusted Rick with my vehicles for more than 20 years; he’s one of the good guys in the automotive industry. Stephen took one look at the car’s highly unusual crack and said, “I’ve never seen one like it, but I think I can fix it. I’ll give it my best shot.” It’s been perfect ever since.
Stephen and I texted and set a time today to get the work done as I’m trying to get the van road trip ready. In the process, we started talking about this project. He enjoys going to baseball games and has played softball in the past, so I thought I’d try and kill two birds with one stone. I asked if he’d have any interest in playing catch and he agreed, saying that he’d have time after installing the new windshield.
And then there was a delay.
“The parts didn’t come in like I was told. It’ll be Monday or Tuesday. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’d still like to come play catch. Is that possible?”
We met at Fassnight Field and celebrated the completion of Stephen’s finals this past week: Calculus 3, Linear Algebra, and Physics 2.
“Two As and a B.”
Passing those classes are not requirements for future catch-playing partners.
Intrigued by his class choice, I asked about his dream job.
“I’d love to be an autonomous engineer, like with Tesla. But most of those jobs are government based, and my time in prison prevents me from working with the government.”
That was one of the best story curveballs I’ve heard this year.
Stephen grew up in Arizona and as a teenager made some mistakes and got involved with the wrong crowd. He was arrested and spent two years in prison.
“I knew I’d better make a change, or else I’d keep coming back here or wind up dead. So I started looking for work and staying out of trouble.”
We were playing catch the whole time he told me his story and I interrupted about every other sentence because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Stephen is full of smiles and grace and generosity. When he first pulled in to the parking lot, he took one look at the windshield and laughed, “Yeah, that one needs to be replaced.”
He carried a first baseman’s mitt to the field and I commented on it. “Some friends from church gave it to me so I could play on their team a couple years ago. But I don’t play first base. I play outfield.”
I told him a little bit about the charity softball game I’ll be playing in next week.
“The guys called this the ‘golden glove.’ Nothing got past me in the outfield!” he said and laughed. “That was also the season I hit my first home run, my first real, over-the-fence home run. I’d never done anything like that. It was incredible.”
One bucket list dream Stephen has is to see the Yankees play live.
“It’s the Yankees, you know. I just think that would be cool.”
I’ve been to a few Yankees games at the K. I’ve seen the Royals win against the Yankees, too. I couldn’t believe they beat the Yankees last night and can only hope they’ll do it again tonight.
I asked for Stephen’s permission to tell his story. “It was fifteen years ago. I made some mistakes and I learned from them. Hopefully someone hears my story and it helps them, too.”
Baseball is a game all about second chances, about learning from failure, about hope for the future.
So, Elon Musk and Tesla, meet Stephen.