A National story
Because of a generous nature that he handed down to his son, Richard Wilson posthumously became the feel-good story this week for anxious fans of an underachieving Major League Baseball team.
Followers of the Washington Nationals had high expectations entering this season. The hopefuls included Richard and Kent Wilson, Washington representative for General Mills.
Father and son shared their love of baseball and the optimism that Richard could enjoy a set of season tickets at Nationals Park despite last year’s diagnosis.
Richard had liver cancer, and not long to live.
The pair made it to one game this season, the Nationals’ first home game. Richard tired after just a couple of innings. So they edged their way through the electricity of an Opening Day crowd and down the stairs.
Richard, 67, passed away June 8.
A retired member of the United States Army Reserves who rose to become Deputy Director of Chamber Security at the U.S. House of Representatives, Richard met U.S. presidents, world dignitaries, celebrities and even Queen Elizabeth.
He played high school baseball with Ray Miller, who preceded Tom Kelly as manager of the Minnesota Twins.
People he met needed a lot of time to learn any of that. What they knew after a few minutes with him was that Richard was a regular guy.
He liked to paint. He liked cars. He liked to laugh.
And he was generous.
Kent inherited dad’s generosity. So when Kent couldn’t quite bring himself to return to those ballpark seats with the sweeping view of an emerald field and the U.S. Capitol in the background, he decided to start giving away their tickets.
And then to complete strangers.
Particularly people who couldn’t afford tickets.
This week, a Washington Post story told of Kent’s generosity. Kent had not only been giving away the tickets he and his father shared, but when requests kept rolling in to his post on Craigslist, he also was donating more tickets at his own expense.
By Monday afternoon, it was the top sports story on Yahoo!
Since then the blogs, stories online and in print, and television coverage have thrown a warm breeze on Kent Wilson’s trying summer – and given Richard Wilson a slice of immortality.
“His story will be out there forever now, which is pretty cool if you think about it,” Kent says. “I had some friends from Connecticut tell me it was on their TV station this morning. And someone from ESPN retweeted the story. Pretty cool.”
But “it’s all a little crazy,” too, Kent says. “I just got a request to do a TV piece on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
“I am not made for TV.”
Kent’s actions continued to snowball Tuesday night.
A club official invited Kent to his first Nationals’ game since Richard passed. He’ll be a guest of the owners, and on the field for batting practice. Maybe get to meet young star Bryce Harper.
It was after Harper’s home run in the second inning of the home opener that Kent and Richard walked from the ballpark.
This is the point in the story where you would like to think that Richard Wilson will be looking down on his son as he stands in the afternoon sun, feet away from some of the world’s best baseball players.
No one knows if that will be true.
But everyone will know that Kent is there for one reason: He learned from his father how to be generous.
Editor’s note: Kent also appeared on Fox News on Saturday, Aug. 3.