PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – It wouldn’t be the official start to Major League Baseball’s spring training without a trip to the Sunshine State by Leland’s own “Mini Thor.”
Ashtin Gerberg, 5, came to fame last summer as the bite sized version of big league pitcher Noah Syndergaard. He caught the hearts of New York Mets fans after a YouTube video featuring him and his dad simulating a big league game in front of their home went viral.
Paired with Ashtin’s likeness to Syndergaard, he and his family were invited to spent a week in the Big Apple this past June culminating with Ashtin throwing out the ceremonial first-pitch at Citi Field in New York City prior to a Mets game.
Now, with players reporting to their respective facilities in Florida and Arizona, it was no surprise Gerberg got the call.
After doing interviews with radio and television stations across New York, which led to him taking Wiffle Ball batting practice off former big league pitcher John Smoltz during a stop at MLB Network studios, Ashtin’s dad, Aaron Gerberg, made sure to stay in touch with some of the connections they’ve made.
That led to an opportunity for Ashtin to shoot a segment for SportsNet New York (SNY) as part of Mets Kids Clubhouse, a weekly half-hour baseball program geared toward children.
With the car packed and his dad and grandfather, Alan Gerberg, doing the driving, the Gerberg’s made a quick stop at the Cal Ripken Experience Baseball Complex in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before their final destination, Port St. Lucie, Florida.
“I was talking with one of the producers at Mets Kids Clubhouse and they wanted to interview Ashtin, but it was a long day for us,” said Aaron Gerberg. “We got to the ball park at 7:15 a.m. and by the time Ashtin was finally interviewed it was after 3.”
While young Ashtin was hanging out and waiting for his time in front of the camera, the Gerberg’s watched batting practice, team drills and the flowing locks of “Mini-Thor” caught the attention of pitcher Jacob DeGrom and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.
“On top of all the waiting around Ashtin was sick the night before, but it was really cool to have some of the guys we met and played catch with last year recognize Ashtin and say ‘hi,'” Aaron Gerberg said.
After grabbing photos with players Ty Kelly, Brandon Nimmo and TJ Rivera, Ashtin finally met with the SNY producers and figured out how his segment would play out.
During his spotlight, Ashtin was quizzed on his baseball terminology and also took part in a Q&A session, which will eventually be edited into a piece featuring the Leland boy asking questions with some of the New York Mets players answering.
While things maybe didn’t go as originally planned because the Gerberg’s were unable to meet Syndergaard again, another memorable experience for Ashtin has kept “Mini Thor” on the radar of many avid baseball players and fans as he gets ready to celebrate his 6th birthday in April.
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