July 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Ferndale family thanks Tigers fan for 'magical' night

Tom Burns holds an unsigned note given to him on Tuesday evening by mysterious baseball fan . (Tom Burns' blog post)

Detroit— For a Ferndale family who went to Comerica Park on Tuesday for the Tigers game, the come-from-behind win was special, but it was an unsigned note left from a mysterious baseball fan that made the night “magical.”

When Tigers fan Tom Burns brought his wife, Annie, mother-in-law, Martha, 7-year-old daughter and two nephews to see the Tigers take on the Los Angeles Dodgers, he found himself in a less than optimistic mood after the first inning: L.A. 5, Detroit 0.

A 5-run rally by the Tigers in the second inning started a comeback in which they would go on to win 14-5. It wasn’t the heroics of Tigers’ batters that impressed Burns, 37, but rather a kind act from a stranger in the fifth inning.

Burns, who was seated in Section 329, Row B, was tapped on the shoulder by a couple sitting behind him who said, “The man sitting next to us told us to give you these after he left.”

They handed Burns a stuffed tiger for his daughter, Charley, a souvenir baseball for his nephews, Brendan, 13, and Nolan, 10, and a note that read: “Thanks for teaching your kids the greatest game ever.”

Burns said he and his family were astonished.

“We stood up looking for him, because we were so surprised,” Burns said Wednesday in a an interview with The Detroit News. “My daughter said, ‘That’s for me?’ I told her ‘I guess it is. My nephew noticed and said ‘Wow, that’s the nicest thing ever.’ ”

For Burns’ nephews, Brendan and Nolan, who were visiting from Colorado, the random act of kindness was an unforgettable highlight from their first game at Comerica Park.

“They had these goofy smiles on their face. It was like this great affirmation after someone witnessed them really enjoying the game and they were rewarded for that. It was such a sweet, unanticipated moment,” Burns said.

Before the man left, Burns said he heard him make a few comments about Alex Avila’s swing.

“On one hand, I want to know why he did it, but, then again, I think maybe it would be better if it remained a mystery,” Burns said. “Because he chose how he wanted to do it”

Burns said the man appeared to be at the game alone.

Although he didn’t get to tell him in person, Burns expressed his thanks to the mysterious fan in his post, and vowed to pay the good deed forward.

“Your act of kindness made an already fun night positively magical for my daughter and my nephews,” Burns wrote in a blog post on his experience. “They talked about it all the way back to the car, marveling at what you’d done, marveling at how baseball really might be the greatest game ever, because, thanks to you, they now associate the game with not only excitement, drama, and competition, but also with grace, empathy, and benevolence.

“What you did for my family and I hope to one day pass on as much goodwill as you did last night.”

Burns said he already considered baseball a “mythic” sport, and Tuesday’s experience definitely fit the bill.

“We love going to baseball games, but this adds this whole other element that can bring out the best in people,” Burns said. “I just want to tell him you’ve made baseball even more special for my family.”

TBriscoe@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2541

The mystery man left a stuffed tiger for his Burns' daughter Charley, and ... (Tom Burns blog post)
Outisde Comerica Park on Tuesday are from left, Nolan, 10, Brendan, 13, ... (Tom Burns)