In addition to playing baseball and watching the sport on television, 9-year-old Reese Osterberg loves collecting baseball cards. There aren’t many bigger fans of America’s favorite pastime than this young lady.
“I like baseball cards because they are pictures of people doing happy stuff. Doing what they love. And what I love,” says Reese.
But when the Creek Fire—the single largest wildfire in California’s history—forced Reese’s family to evacuate their home in Fresno, she had to leave all 100 of her cards behind. Two days later, they were burned along with the rest of the family’s possessions that were left behind in the home.
It sounds like a tragic ending, but the story wasn’t over just yet. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) shared Reese’s tale on the radio and asked for people to donate cards to replace her lost collection.
And one very significant individual happened to be listening in at just the right time.
Kevin Ashford had been thinking about selling his collection of 25,000 baseball cards, which he’s been curating since the 1960s. He estimates it’s worth between $35,000 and $50,000.
“I had initially planned on selling my cards on eBay,” says Kevin. “But when I thought about the smile I could put on that little girl’s face, it was an easy decision. I felt compelled to donate the cards to her.”
Cal Fire put Reese and Kevin in contact with one another and helped deliver several boxes of baseball cards to Reese on October 30th. Kevin and Reese immediately hit it off, agreeing to attend a Giants game after the pandemic is over.
“When she told me that she used to sit with her binder of baseball cards in front of the TV watching baseball, I knew I had made the right decision,” says Kevin. “Because that’s exactly what I used to do as a kid.”
Reese isn’t planning on keeping all of Kevin’s baseball cards for herself. She will be giving some away to friends and teammates, and others will be donated to sick kids at the nearby Children’s Hospital of Central California, along with cards and notes of encouragement.
“When someone does something nice for you, it’s important to do nice things for other people, too,” says Reese.
Check out the video below to watch Reese receive yet another surprise, this time from her favorite baseball player.