Chris Davis was hurting. And Henry Frasca did what he could to change that.
Davis, 33, plays first base for the Baltimore Orioles and experienced a record-setting slump that started last season and carried into the 2019 campaign.
On April 12, the streak reached 0 for 54 when Davis lined out as a pinch-hitter to end the game.
A die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, Henry Frasca learned of Davis’ struggles through MLB.com and, with tickets to the April 13 game at Fenway Park, Henry decided to write Davis a letter of encouragement. But Frasca arrived at the ballpark later than expected.
“Security told him that he couldn’t get to the dugout, but Henry wouldn’t take no for an answer,” his father, Gabriel, recalled. “Every time the guy told him no, Henry kept telling him that he had to get this letter to Chris Davis.”
Eventually, Orioles field coordinator Tim Cossins overheard the exchange and stepped in, saying he would deliver the note.
It read: “I’m a diehard Red Sox and baseball fan. I’m 9 years old. I want to tell you two things. How many hits you get has nothing to do with how good a person you are. You weren’t a better person when you were hitting more home runs. You aren’t a worse person now.
“Secondly, you’re incredible. Don’t forget. You hit 50 home runs in a season. You’re really good. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and I’m going to believe in you. There’ll be one Red Sox fan rooting for you.
“Your friend, Henry.”
That day, Davis singled in a pair of runs with two outs in the first inning — his first hit of the season. He finished the day 3 for 5 with two doubles and a four RBIs.
“When I started reading it, I got a little choked up,” said Davis, who played that day with Henry’s note in his back pocket and now keeps it in a Bible.
“At that point, we had no idea Chris had gotten the note,” Gabriel Frasca recalled. “But Henry knew.”
The Orioles won 9-5 that day, leaving Henry with some mixed emotions.
“As long as we don’t lose the division or the wild card by one game, I’m fine with it,” he said.
Davis said it took him a few days to fully comprehend what had transpired.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “Here’s this 9-year-old kid, a Red Sox fan, and he’s thinking about me, my state of mind, my well-being. To write the note and then fight through the crowd to get it to me, it’s unbelievable.
“He’s a special kid, no question. He’s in tune with baseball, society and the world. He’s a really sharp kid and, at the same time, so unassuming. He realized that I was hurting and reached out in a way that helped me.
“Honestly, I think the whole experience reminded me how much fun this job can be.”
Shortly after that April game, Gabriel Frasca reached out to the Orioles to see if Davis had gotten Henry’s note. The team invited Henry to meet Davis and the rest of team before a game during their next trip to town in August.
The visit included high-fives and handshakes from the Orioles, a number of interviews and a trip inside the Green Monster, where Henry signed his name.
Henry also spent time shagging fly balls with Davis, calling it “one of the best days of my life, easily.”
Davis, who hit .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBIs in 2013 and .262 with 47 homers and 117 RBIs in 2015, finished this season batting .179 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. But he feels he turned a corner and is already looking forward to spring training.
“I know it sounds silly when you look at the numbers, but over the last few weeks of the season, I felt like I was able to accomplish some things that’ll help me next season,” Davis said. “I wasn’t playing every day — the team wanted to look at some young guys — so I was able to change my training routine a bit and started to feel better about the way I was swinging the bat.”
Frasca will be among those honored at this year’s Musial Awards, presented by Maryville University in St Louis on Saturday.
The show will also be seen nationally on Saturday, Dec. 21, as a one-hour special on CBS at 1 p.m.
This year’s honorees feature Olympic gymnastics legends Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, St. Louis Blues superfan Laila Anderson and Blues broadcaster Chris Kerber.
The “first couple” of gymnastics, Conner and Comaneci won a combined seven Olympic gold medals, with Comaneci, then a 14-year-old from Romania, earning the first perfect 10 ever awarded. As husband and wife, they continue to lead their lives inspiring others. They will receive the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest award for sportsmanship.
Anderson is fighting a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease. She inspired the Blues to the Stanley Cup title while uplifting a city and people around the nation. Anderson will receive the Musial Award for Extraordinary Character.
And Kerber, the radio voice of the Blues, will be honored for selflessly giving up his spot in the broadcast booth during the second period of each game of the Blues-Bruins Stanley Cup series so that TV broadcaster John Kelly would have a chance to call a Stanley Cup final.