Ashburn, Virginia—Residents of Ashby Ponds joined fans of the Nationals in rooting on the team during their improbable World Series run. Nats caps and t-shirts were common attire during the pennant race and post-season at the senior living community developed and managed by Erickson Living.
Chuck and Patti Blanchard, though, had an added rooting interest. Their grandson, Sean O'Brien, served as one of the team's bat boys for home games, a job he's held for the past three seasons.
"Sean was always quite the athlete. He attended nearby Briar Woods High School where he played baseball on a state championship team. He was also a captain of the hockey team," described Chuck. "One of his friends who had also been a bat boy with the Nationals helped Sean secure an interview, and the rest is history."
The term "bat boy" might be misleading these days. Sean is currently a junior at James Madison University contemplating career plans. His duties with the Nationals can mean up to three hours of assignments before and after home games, creating a demanding, yet rewarding, experience.
"Sean worked hard, and we're very proud of him," said Patti, who has lived at Ashby Ponds with her husband Chuck for more than four years. "We've been watching him compete in sporting events since his childhood days."
Sean might have gotten his passion for the game from his grandparents. Growing up, Chuck would write to famous baseball players of his era and include a penny postcard in hopes of securing a few return autographs. Throughout his military career, he followed the Atlanta Braves.
As a girl in Tennessee, Patti enjoyed attending minor league baseball games in Memphis, the long-time affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, with her father.
That love of baseball culminated in games 6 and 7 of this year's World Series. Sean worked the three home contests at Nationals Park, but for the first time in the sport's history, the home team would not win a game. Not until Washington reliever Daniel Hudson's strikeout of Astros outfielder Michael Brantley in Houston would the outcome be secured.
"We texted back and forth with Sean during those two games. It went from high drama to pure joy," described Chuck.
"We're so happy for Sean. What a thrill of a lifetime!" stated Patti.
About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,475 residents and 550 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Ashby Ponds. Additional information can be found at AshbyPonds.com.