Parents David and Corrina, and their sons Clifford, 17, and Isaac, 12, set out not just to attend a minor league baseball game at the Huntington Park in Columbus. Their quest was giving Clifford the chance to realize a long-held dream – to be a sports announcer.
For most kids, this idea would not be an impossible achievement. For Clifford, diagnosed with JNCL, his passion for baseball and sports has always been a joy, something his family has nurtured. They’ve never let Batten disease limit his dedication to all things baseball. This was one night when the stars would align and he would be part of it.
Clifford’s mom Corrina was thrilled he would be able to announce the players coming up to bat in the second half of the Columbus Clippers baseball game, during an outing of the BDSRA Family Conference.
“This was a dream come true for Clifford, who has loved sports, especially baseball since he was a baby,” she said. “He attended his first baseball game, the Peoria Chiefs, when he was just three months old and he would sit with his father and watch baseball on TV every day that they could.”
“We are a radio family, with Clifford’s dad being a reporter and anchor on the radio. Clifford got a radio in his room when he was a toddler so he could listen to baseball and other sports whenever he wanted,” she noted.
“When he lost his sight, listening to the radio became even more important, and he would take a radio headphone set to games so he could hear the broadcast and know what was happening on the field. His favorite team is, of course, the St. Louis Cardinals. However, he loves baseball so much he will listen to any team anywhere and loves to attend games whenever he can.”
Corrina notes, “anyone who meets Clifford for the first time quickly learns what a baseball fan he is because he usually asks people what their favorite team is.”
When BDSRA conference planners set up the group trip to the baseball game, executive director Margie Frazier knew just who to call about helping out in the announcer’s booth. “When we learned there would indeed be a game, Margie asked me if Clifford would like to announce. I told her I knew that he would,” Corrina recalled.
The anticipation and excitement for the Dahls was immense.
“We decided to not tell Clifford until the day of the game. We wanted it to be a surprise. He was very surprised and excited,” she said. “He loved going onto the field and meeting the players and the mascots. He loved going into the sound booth and meeting the announcers and most of all he loved announcing the players.”
It was a moment that was 17 years in the making, according to his mom.
“You see, when Clifford was little he loved playing baseball and like many little boys he imagined being a ball player when he grew up,” she explained.
“Losing his eyesight, he realized that would not happen for him, but he never complained, he found a new dream, to be a baseball announcer.”
With his dad as his assistant, Clifford climbed up to the broadcast booth at the stadium and proudly called the player names for the batting order. It’s a moment his family will never forget.
“When he returned to his seat, he looked at me and said ‘I’m a real announcer now,’” she noted. “He was so thrilled and proud, it brought me to tears to see him so happy and to know that for him, his dream was fulfilled.”