A national feel good moment

    Just in the week where lack of civility, selfishness and just plain stupidity in Congress or the Grammys or the gesturing guy with his road rage makes the headlines,
    one young father’s joy becomes an American symbol of generosity. That’s what WHYY’s Chris Satullo talks about today in his weekly audio column Center Square.

    Listen: [audio: satullo20090920.mp3]

    Here’s the thing: You never know when or how your 15 minutes of fame are going to arrive.

    It might spring upon you from behind the camouflage of a very ordinary day. Just ask Steve Monforto. For this South Jersey guy, last Tuesday seemed an ordinary day.

    After work, Monforto slipped on his red Phillies T-shirt and cap, and took his wife and two kids to a Phillies game.

    In the bottom of the fifth, the Phils’ scruffy manchild, Jayson Werth, sent a pop-up arcing towards Monforto’s seat behind home plate. The kind of moment every red-blooded American yearns for, a chance at a foul ball.

    Monforto was ready. He made a slick grab leaning over the railing. The sellout crowd gave him a nice cheer. Turns out, that moment wasn’t the one that mattered. The foul ball only tested Monforto’s reflexes. What happened next, the moment that jumped out from behind the bushes, tested his character. Tested it for the world to see.

    Monforto handed the ball triumphantly to his 3-year-old daughter, Emily, in her pink Phillies cap. And Emily promptly tossed it back onto the field. You wait a lifetime for such a trophy, and your kid chucks it away. What would you do?

    Well, what Monforto did next is now a YouTube sensation, a national feel-good story. After a moment of open-mouthed shocked, he gave his little girl a smile only a loving father could, and hugged her close Steve Monforto passed this pop quiz on character, summa cum laude. In a world where far too many parents neglect, strike and demean their children, he hugged his.

    Suddenly, every network news show wanted to talk to him. Women posting on Twitter that they wanted to have his babies. It could have gone differently. After Emily’s toss, some people might have scowled, yelled or pouted. But when a televised test of character zoomed in on him one cool September night, Steve Monforto was ready.

    May we all be so ready when our 15 minutes pounces.

    Let me end with one tip for the Phillies, which for a change has nothing to do with Brad Lidge. Make sure you’ve got a home game scheduled for next Fathers Day. And have Steve Monforto throw out the first pitch.

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