Mark McFarlin’s handwritten letter to San Francisco Giants General Manager Bobby Evans offered guidance, instruction and a fan’s plea.
“It would be so cool if the Giants got Mark Melancon,” McFarlin wrote last October. “Offer him a big contract!!! Bobby, please go out and get him now.”
McFarlin, 16, loves the Giants enough to know they desperately needed a closer like Melancon. So did Evans, who signed him for four years and $62 million. See, McFarlin has the ear of everyone at AT&T Park from the front office to the Giants in the clubhouse. His passion is genuine, simple and devoid of guile.
And he may have made a friend for life in Melancon, who gave McFarlin the autographed glove he used to record his first save as a Giant.
“That letter a little boy sent to General Manager Bobby Evans telling him to get me is one of the cooler things that has happened in my career,” Melancon said in a recent ESPN feature about McFarlin.
So touched were the Giants, they invited McFarlin – a Grace Davis High sophomore – to their home opener last month. There to greet him was Melancon, who gave him a hug and introduced him to Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and the rest of the Giants.
“Melancon told me thanks for coming and that he is glad to be a Giant and that I got him to the Giants,” McFarlin said.
McFarlin’s outreach to the Giants, and vice-versa, have brightened a thus far gloomy season. As one might have expected, there’s more to the story than just a young fan’s devotion to a baseball team.
McFarlin is lucky to be alive.
He was born with diseased kidneys and underwent surgery six days after he took his first breath.
“They told us he would not live long,” said Diane McFarlin, Mark’s mother. “He was a kid who was not supposed to live.”
Though saddled with learning disabilities, he lives and smiles through the sometimes difficult school days. He relies on the love from his mom and father Scott, the support of his family and, just maybe, a special connection to the Giants.
It would be so cool if the Giants got Mark Melancon. Offer him a big contract!!! Bobby, please go out and get him now.
Mark McFarlin’s letter to Giants GM Bobby Evans
His stream of letters to players and the front office over the years clearly have made an impression. Evans made the arrangements to welcome Mark and his family as special guests for the first home game.
“He writes me more than anyone else,” Evans said. “You could tell that Mark was writing it out of passion.”
McFarlin’s bedroom is a virtual Giants shrine. Clocks, signs, bobbleheads and even wallpaper bear the team’s colors. A Melancon jersey decorates a wall. Even his backpack is stamped with the Giants logo. The family backyard includes an orange-colored scoreboard and foul poles.
When the Giants won World Series titles in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14, they caught the attention of a kid whose days were not easy.
“Before 2010, he never watched much TV,” Diane said. “It’s such an innocent way how it started. Just a child straight from the heart...The Giants were fabulous to us. It’s so much more than we ever anticipated. We are just a very simple family out here in Modesto. Our boy is sincere about this.”
McFarlin’s letters, some offering congratulations and others a slap on the back after a loss, still find their way to the Giants.
When Melancon was placed on the disabled list for a sore elbow this week, his biggest fan dashed off a letter within minutes after he heard the news. McFarlin doesn’t like all the losses, of course. His ideas about acquiring a leftfielder also have been duly recorded by Evans and the rest of the Giants’ braintrust.
“Sometimes,” McFarlin laments, “I wish I wasn’t a sports fan over times like this.”