Editorial: Votto's heart, not stats, make him MVP - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

OPINION

Editorial: Votto's heart, not stats, make him MVP

Reds first baseman Joey Votto at Walter "Superbubz" Herbert's visitation on Oct. 12 at Fairfield Central Elementary School. Pictured with Walter's sister, Adley, 8. (Photo provided by Walter's mother, Emily Herbert) Reds first baseman Joey Votto at Walter "Superbubz" Herbert's visitation on Oct. 12 at Fairfield Central Elementary School. Pictured with Walter's sister, Adley, 8. (Photo provided by Walter's mother, Emily Herbert)
Walter "Superbubz" Herbert with Joey Votto (Provided by Cincinnati Reds) Walter "Superbubz" Herbert with Joey Votto (Provided by Cincinnati Reds)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

We find out Nov. 16 if Reds first baseman Joey Votto wins the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

The other finalists are Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton.

I know this award is based on stats. Home run hits. On-base percentages.

Related story: Reds Joey Votto named finalist for NL MVP

But for me, just a mom of two small children who is guided more by her heart than stats, what I remember most from this season is the moment Mr. Votto brought joy to a 6-year-old child in the stands at Great American Ball Park.

At that point, this star athlete's name was synonymous to me with temper tantrums.

I cover mostly breaking news, not sports, so the only two stories I ever wrote about him were Votto goes berserk in Reds' loss to Pirates and Video: Votto grabs fan's shirt, apologizes with signed ball

That all was erased on Aug. 31 when he handed his home run bat to a little boy.

The boy beamed. His name was Walter "Superbubz" Herbert.

Then Mr. Votto gave Walter the jersey right off his back. Walter put it on and wore it home.

This heartwarming moment made the national news and, along with it, the fact that this child was inspiring our community with his valiant cancer battle.

Weeks later, after that beautiful little boy took his last breath, his father reached out to me. It was the day before his son's visitation at Fairfield Central Elementary School.

"Do you have any connections to offer an invitation to Joey Votto to the layout tomorrow before we open to the public?" Wally Herbert wrote me in a Facebook direct message.

I thought for a minute. Then, I reached out to a friend who put me in touch with a Reds executive. She promised to pass the message along. 

"Done," I wrote Wally Herbert back. "I contacted someone who says they will pass the invite along to him. They do not think he is in town anymore since the season is over for them, but they are going to get the message to him. I'll let you know if I hear back."

"Awesome," he wrote in response. "No obligation from him. Just wanted to extend the invitation if he wanted to. Thank you."

The following night, Mr. Votto quietly slipped in toward the end of the visitation.

He was without entourage. He gave no interviews. No one knew he was coming.

A gold ribbon symbolizing childhood cancer awareness was pinned over his left chest.

He insisted on waiting in line just like everyone else to pay his respects.

He brought Walter's mother cream roses in a vase with purple lisianthus and a few baby's breath.

Tears stream down my face every time I think about it.

That's what makes him the Most Valuable Player to me.

You can hit all the home runs in the world, but it doesn't mean a thing if you don't stop every once in a while and give a boy your bat. 

Your talent is, after all, only as big as your heart.

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