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Rowland-Smith Gives the Shirt Off His Back

In Response to Fan Mail from Todd Cook, Pitcher Delivers the Gift of a Lifetime

Todd Cook's Blog

The same jersey that Rowland-Smith wore during Spring Training will now be worn by Todd Cook for the rest of the season.

To the average baseball fan, assessing whether a player is "fan-friendly" is pretty simple. Does he sign autographs? Does he stop to chat with the occasional fan during batting practice? Does he smile and nod when you call his name? Does he toss some balls into the crowd?

This season, however, Mariners' pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith has taken the term "fan-friendly" to a whole new level. Thanks to his unparalleled generosity, myGameBalls member Todd Cook is now the proud owner of an authentic, game-used Mariners Spring Training jersey that was worn by Rowland-Smith himself.

The story began late last season when Todd's son Tim caught his first toss-up, provided courtesy of Rowland-Smith. He also took the time to get a photo taken with Tim, providing a memory that will last a lifetime.

Prior to the 2010 season, Todd was thinking about putting together a new outfit to wear to the ballpark and he decided to make a quite unusual request. "I think I must have been watching an M's spring training game on MLBNetwork at the time with RRS pitching or maybe I was watching an internet video clip interview of RRS," Cook wrote on his blog. "Whatever I was watching, I got a flat out ridiculous idea."

He typed a letter to Rowland-Smith, included the photos that he had taken with Tim, and asked him if he could have his Spring Training jersey. "A little embarrassed, I showed it to my wife and we agreed there was a essentially a 100% chance that I would never hear anything from RRS in response to the letter," he wrote. Nevertheless, he put it in the mail.

In May, Todd and Tim visited Oriole Park at Camden Yards when the Mariners were in town, and with batting practice rained out they made their way over to the bullpen, where Rowland-Smith saw them and came over to chat from about 100 feet away. Shockingly, when their conversation began, Rowland-Smith immediately asked if Todd was the one who sent the letter and asked if he still wanted the jersey. Todd couldn't believe what he was hearing, and told Rowland-Smith that he would be in Seattle later in the season.

"After this game, I was ecstatic," Todd wrote. "WOW! Ryan Rowland-Smith said he would give me his jersey! I mean, that's ridiculous. I couldn't wait! Ah, I wasn't going to be in Seattle until the end of the season!"

He sent another letter to Rowland-Smith thanking him for the memorable exchange in Baltimore and letting him know the specific dates that he would be in Seattle. Just in case there might be a possibility that he would deliver the jersey a little early, he included a self-addressed envelope.

In another stunning display of generosity, the envelope arrived back at the Cook residence just a week later. Sure enough, the jersey was in the envelope and was signed personally by Rowland-Smith. Floored by the whole experience, Todd and Tim announced on their blog that they are officially inducting Rowland-Smith into the "Cook and Son Hall of Fame."

"I've had the jersey about a week and a half now and I still cannot believe it," Cook wrote. "Who has ever thought of writing to a professional baseball player and asking for his jersey? And who has ever heard of it ACTUALLY WORKING!?"

Believe it or not, it didn't end there. Rowland-Smith heard about his induction into the Cook and Son Hall of Fame and took the time to give them a shout-out on Twitter. Wow. "Fan-friendly" doesn't even begin to describe this guy.

Read the complete Hall of Fame induction on the Cook and Son Blog

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