Dad pitches Major League Baseball teams on wooing their newest fan

Now to our “NewsHour” Shares, something that
caught our eye that may be of interest to you, too. Allegiances to sports teams run deep in many
families, but one Virginia man decided to let the nation’s Major League Baseball franchises
make their own pitch for his son’s affection. The “NewsHour”‘s Julia Griffin explains. PETE VAN VLEET, Father: This photo is good
for two Astros tickets. JULIA GRIFFIN: So, when are you going to redeem
that? PETE VAN VLEET: If it were up to me, we’re
having such a good year, we’d go this season, but that would be unfair for Jack. (CROSSTALK) JULIA GRIFFIN: Right, because he wouldn’t
remember it. PETE VAN VLEET: He wouldn’t remember it. JULIA GRIFFIN: Jack wouldn’t remember a Houston
Astros game because he was just born in February. And while his father, Pete Van Vleet, is a
lifelong Astros fan, he wants Jack, like his 5-year-old daughter, Madeline, to choose his
own allegiance. PETE VAN VLEET: I didn’t want to force anything
on my own kids, especially in the realm of baseball, so I let them pick their own team. JULIA GRIFFIN: A few seasons ago, Madeline
picked Detroit, reasoning that Tigers are fierce. PETE VAN VLEET: A friend of mine asked when,
after Jack was born, is he going to be an Astros fan? I said, no, he can root for whomever he wants. And then it dawned on me, why not let the
teams have a say? JULIA GRIFFIN: When spring training got under
way, Pete, who, for the record, is an employee of PBS, mailed letters to all 30 Major League
Baseball teams. The query was simple, but serious. PETE VAN VLEET: “I want to give you, the Pittsburgh
Pirates, the San Francisco Giants, the Washington Nationals, a chance to make your own case
as to why my son should pick your team to root for. I must tell you, I do not take this lightly. Friends may come and go. Political affiliations and beliefs in higher
powers may change, but one’s team is one’s team forever.” JULIA GRIFFIN: It wasn’t long before responses,
or, arguably, bribes, began to arrive. From the Milwaukee Brewers, a letter and autographed
baseball. PETE VAN VLEET: From Matt Garza, their ace
pitcher. JULIA GRIFFIN: From the Miami Marlins. PETE VAN VLEET: “Billy the Marlin, our mascot
is goofy, adorable and is blatantly superior to all other Major League mascots.” So, if he’s fishing for a team, the Marlins
are a good one there. JULIA GRIFFIN: Pittsburgh Pirates president
Frank Coonelly wrote a personal note. PETE VAN VLEET: “The Pirate ship has plenty
of room on it for a young fan from Ashland, Virginia.” JULIA GRIFFIN: Nationals team manager Dusty
Baker sent pint-sized team gear and an invitation. PETE VAN VLEET: “We want to get you started
by inviting you to our ballpark to catch a game, visit the field during batting practice,
and, of course, a sharp outfit for you to start your collection.” JULIA GRIFFIN: While the Chicago Cubs sent
an array of 2016 world champions memorabilia and made a play for Madeline. PETE VAN VLEET: “I know big sisters have a
lot of influence over their little brothers, so maybe you can help us convince Jack to
be a Cubs fan.” Why not? That’s very smart of them. JULIA GRIFFIN: Not only did they send all
the swag, but they are going after the sister vote as well. PETE VAN VLEET: Exactly. JULIA GRIFFIN: A total of 13 teams have replied
so far, but have any knocked their argument out of the park? Is 4-month-old Jack persuaded? There is a smile. PETE VAN VLEET: Maybe that’s it JULIA GRIFFIN: Well, for now, no comment. Jack is just enjoying the pennant pursuers’
pursuit. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Julia Griffin
in Ashland, Virginia. JUDY WOODRUFF: Just shameless. And I like the team that went after — I guess
it was the Cubs, who thought about the big sister.

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