A holiday homerun
By Allie Anderson
The holidays may be over, but the spirit of the season will fill the Pace home long after the tree and stockings have been put away. Zach Pace, Associate Claims Agent for Dominion Energy Utah, received a gift so special not even Santa could have delivered it.
Zach and his wife, Cassidy, are the busy parents of four boys: Colton, 8, Carter, 6, Stockton, 3, and Jaxon, 1. While their days are filled with “very noisy chaos,” as Zach describes it, one thing brings them all together: baseball.
“The boys have always been at the ballpark,” Zach says. “I think Colton was 1 month old when he went to his first game. Now I coach both Colton’s and Carter’s Little League teams and I love it.”
In addition to coaching, Zach plays on two recreational teams. “Going to the ballpark is heaven to me,” Zach says. “The boys also love to come watch my games. When I have late games they can’t come to, they cry.”
In April 2018, while Zach and Colton were watching a televised Yankees game, Colton had an interesting idea.
“Aaron Judge, an outfielder for the Yankees, is Colton’s favorite player,” Zach explains. “He told me he wanted to write Aaron a letter, and I told him he could absolutely do that.”
While Colton didn’t write to Aaron right away, the realization that he could write letters to teams and players stayed with him.
At the beginning of December, Colton approached Cassidy with an idea for Zach’s Christmas present: There would be no macaroni ornaments or colored pictures – Colton had bigger plans. He wanted to write a letter to every major league baseball team. All 30 of them. Plus four minor league teams. For an 8-year-old still mastering the skill of writing, this was a tall order. But Colton was determined.
“Every day for 10 days he’d work on the letters when he knew I wouldn’t be home,” Zach says. “He would wake up 30 minutes early to work on the letters and then work on them again for 30 minutes after school. Cassidy said his hand would get so sore writing these letters that he would cry, but he persisted. It was a lot of work for the little guy. In the letters, he talked about how he wanted to do something special for his dad for Christmas and that baseball is our favorite thing to do together.”
Each letter also included a custom drawing of the team’s logo. Cassidy helped Colton mail the letters, and within a week teams started responding.
As Zach recalls, “I saw a bunch of packages on the porch, but didn’t think anything of it because we order a lot on Amazon. I still don’t know where Colton kept all the letters or all the packages that came. He did a really good job keeping it all a secret – I had no idea.”
Colton chose Christmas Eve to reveal his surprise to Zach.
“Carter and I were watching a Christmas movie in the family room,” Zach says. “Colton came in and said to Carter, ‘It’s time,’ which for them can mean anything. For all I knew they were going to fight aliens.”
A few minutes later Carter and Colton returned, each holding a large box wrapped in Christmas paper.
“Colton stood in the front of the family room like he was giving a presentation,” Zach says. “He said ‘Dad, you always work so hard for us so I wanted to do something special for you for Christmas.’ Then he and Carter set down the two giant boxes that were wrapped. He told me about the letters and said, ‘This is what I got back.’ I just started to cry. It didn’t matter what was in the box – it was just so touching that he thought to do that for me.”
Jerseys, hats, cards, keychains, stickers, socks, batting gloves, shirts and letters from different teams spilled out of the boxes. The Cardinals even sent ticket vouchers for any game this season.
“I told Colton it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me,” Zach says. “Baseball means a lot to me and that’s what we do together. He took something that bonds us and did this amazing thing.”
Fourteen teams responded before Christmas, and the mail is still coming in.
“We are still getting packages,” Zach says. “Just last week we got a bobblehead and letter from the Rays.”
Christmas 2018 will always hold a special memory for the entire Pace family, but especially for Zach and Colton. As Zach puts it, “I’ll remember it forever. And so will he.”