J.P. Arencibia is a decent human being, scored Opening Day tickets for fan with autism

Matt HarveyMatt Harvey (pictured on the left with his father at Blue Jays spring training in 2012) by all accounts looks like your typical 31-year-old. The St. Catharines, Ontario man has a job he enjoys, a girlfriend he adores, an affinity for Twitter, and an almost unhealthy passion for baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays.

He also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

Harvey had a rough go of it in high school, moreso than most, thanks to his undiagnosed autism. He was the target of constant bullying, which led to depression because not only did he not understand why he was the unwilling recipient of repeated attacks from cowardly bullies, but as he put it, “I didn’t even know who I was at that time I didn’t understand.” Things would get better for Matt, eventually, after a teacher caught his attackers beating him up one day, leading to their suspension. He would be diagnosed with autism in his 20s, and has taken his perceived disability and used it as a tool, becoming a role model for others afflicted with similar issues.

Says Matt (via Liam McGuire of Canadian Baseball Network)…

“I want people to know that living with a disability doesn’t mean anything, because no one is perfect we all have differences, some are more visible,” Harvey said, “but that means I have nothing to hide about who I am.

“Don’t give up, know that there are people who care and will help.”

Getting back to Matt’s Twitter presence, the man with the handle @halladayfan32 has over 3,700 followers, and it seems as if he’s on the social media site 24/7, sending out tweets of encouragement and support to a multitude of different athletes, from baseball players to wrestlers to NFL football players, often garnering a response from said athlete (just recently he’s been tweeted back by Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez and Bills RB Fred Jackson among others) because even in 140 characters, Matt’s infectious personality is hard to resist.

Enter Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, Matt’s favorite player, and amateur Tim Kurkjian impersonator. An innocuous tweet sent by Matt to Arencibia—which included a link to this great article about Matt, the aforementioned bullies, and how he’s overcome his personal obstacles—led to a Twitter exchange between the two, and ended with the Toronto backstop procuring a pair of difficult-to-get tickets to the Jays home opener on April 2 against the Indians.

Here’s the Twitter exchange…

And there you have it. How can you not root for a guy like J.P. Arencibia when he does something like this? Not only taking the time to read the article that Matt sent his way, but to go and score the guy a couple of ducats to the Jays season opener. Good guys, role models even, still exist in sports…J.P. Arencibia is living proof of that. And if you’re wondering why I’ve gone to such great lengths to bring you a story about Matt Harvey and J.P. Arencibia, it’s because it hits a little closer to home for me than most of the drivel I put up on the site.

What the majority of you don’t know is that my oldest son has autism, and I see the way people look at him differently when we’re out in public because he doesn’t act like your typical 12-year-old. And when I see or read about people like Matt Harvey, who’s succeeded in life despite hardships and obstacles brought on by autism, and guys like J.P. Arencibia, who are willing to side with those who have been afflicted with disabilities because he’s a fine human being, it gives me great hope for my son’s future in this insensitive world we live in.

 

About the author: Jeff Greenwell

 

Jeff Greenwell is the writer/editor of Last Angry Fan. Jeff has been known to rock a Speedo while belting out Robert Goulet tunes from his front porch, and in his spare time he enjoys capturing and training feral goats to be his minions. Also known to dig a nice brick of cheese from time to time.

Website: http://lastangryfan.com

 

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