Ashland baseball fan seeks Major League team for infant son’s fandom

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People are always asking Pete Van Vleet why he’s a Houston Astro’s fan.

“They just stole my heart at a young age, so I followed them, and I’ve followed them ever since,” said Van Vleet, a Midlothian native who now lives in Ashland.

Van Vleet and his wife Marcia Apperson welcomed their second child into the world on February 9th, and Van Vleet vowed that Jack would be free to choose his team as he wished, ignoring his father’s team (the Astros), his sister’s team (the Tigers), or the closest team geographically (the Nationals).

He got an idea.

During long train rides commuting to Washington, D.C. for his job with PBS, Pete Van Vleet began writing letters to Major League Baseball franchises, asking each to make its case. He sent the letters in late March, unsure any team would read the letters, let alone respond to them.

As of Jack’s three-month birthday, nine Major League teams and the Richmond Flying Squirrels had responded with letters and gifts to woo Jack. The Philadelphia Phillies responded with a letter declining to make a pitch. The Cubs responded with a cache of memorabilia from their 2016 World Series, the first since 1908. Many died without ever seeing a Cubs World Championship, but little Jack only knows the Cubbies as winners. The Pirates, Brewers, Mets, A’s, and Marlins are among the teams to respond, as are Jack’s father’s Astros.

Pete Van Vleet says his long term plan is to wait for Jack to get older and then show him all of the things the teams have sent and let him make his own decision. In the short term, he hopes to take Jack to his first baseball game soon.