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The ‘Baseball Guardian Angel’ Behind Henry Ford’s Record-Breaking Season



Portrait of Henry Ford in his UVA baseball jersey sitting in the stands

“The place’s Tommy?” John requested subsequent – and Henry pointed to Tom Hagan at first base.

“The place’s Zim?” John requested subsequent – and Henry pointed to Ryan Zimmerman at third base.

Henry Ford provided this reminiscence earlier this week whereas seated in B3 and with an arm round B4. These days, he may say his favourite spot at The Dish is the batter’s field – heading into Friday’s house NCAA Match matchup with the College of Pennsylvania, Ford has 17 house runs, essentially the most ever by a UVA freshman – however for many of his life, it was right here in his household’s seats.

The Fords have had the identical view of Cavalier baseball for 20 years. It’s been shared by all family members – together with Henry’s uncle Kevin, an alumnus of this system – however a few of the most cherished instances within the seats got here when John Ford drove down from Washington to affix them.

A “folks particular person” with a baseball background, John, a former police officer, was the best fan to share the house with. He might chat up anybody round him, whereas offering distinctive perspective on the sport at hand.

Above all else, he was “massive on UVA baseball,” stated Ryan Ford, John’s son and Henry’s father.

He cherished the Wahoos since Kevin performed for them within the Nineties and that keenness solely deepened as he bought nearer to this system.

“He would swing by on like a Tuesday and choose up Henry,” stated Ryan, who moved to Charlottesville along with his spouse, Christy, in 2001. “I imply, Henry was 6 months outdated, and my dad would take him as much as the sphere and stroll in and have a chat with coach Mac (UVA assistant coach Kevin McMullan) and take him to the sport and sit within the entrance row and take within the video games with him. He was Henry’s baseball buddy.

“And Henry was engaged.”

John helped Henry study the names of UVA’s gamers, main them to cheer on their favourite staff collectively because the Cavaliers started their rise to a nationwide energy underneath head coach Brian O’Connor, now in his twenty first season on Grounds.

As Henry grew older and developed right into a promising participant in his personal proper, he soaked in additional details about his grandfather – how John was as soon as invited to a tryout for the Cleveland Indians, how John had a candy left-handed swing and the way John all the time wore jersey No. 9.

“From all the things I’ve heard,” Henry stated, “he was tremendous gifted.”

The final time John watched the Hoos was in Omaha, Nebraska, on the 2009 Faculty World Sequence, fulfilling a bucket record journey along with his sons. He had terminal most cancers then, however that did little to derail what Ryan known as an “wonderful journey.”

It’s been 15 years since John’s demise, however his presence remains to be sensed at Disharoon Park. When members of the Ford household – Henry has two youthful sisters, Tulip and Ruby – sit in B3 and B4 now, they’re there in proud assist of the UVA participant who wears No. 9.

Henry Ford is a sweet-swinging illustration of his grandfather.

“He’s like Henry’s baseball guardian angel,” Ryan stated. “I really feel it. Once we’re at The Dish, you may really feel it. I imply, my dad’s the one who launched Henry to all of this.”

Henry is without end grateful. At midday Friday, he debuts within the NCAA Match, starring in his hometown – and on the staff of his childhood.

“I do know me taking part in right here and having success means essentially the most to my grandpa greater than anyone,” he stated. “So, I positively play for him and know that he’s watching.”

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