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Torii Hunter once played catch with a kid in the stands ... who turned out to be George Springer

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Imagine the memories that come from playing catch with a real ballplayer before a game. Every time it happens, it's a wonderful scene, one we've seen in ballparks across the country in recent months. 

But as special as this can be for the kids who luck their way into it, it's also pretty memorable for the players themselves. During Friday night's broadcast of the Astros' 10-5 win over the Twins at Minute Maid Park, Twins icon Torii Hunter visited the booth and told a story of one such encounter he had with a kid when he was a Minor Leaguer with the New Britain Rock Cats in 1997. 

That kid ended up being George Springer, Houston's All-Star outfielder who's overcome quite a lot on his path to becoming one of the Astros' top performers this season. Dealing with a speech impediment for much of his life, Springer's mic'd up moment during the All-Star Game was a sign of how far he's come: 

As Hunter explained in his booth visit, Springer was introduced to him back in 2013 by then-Astros manager, Bo Porter. The young Houston outfielder relayed the story of being "that kid" from back in the day who threw the ball back and forth with Hunter. 

The lesson in all of this is simple: Keep an eye out for the kids seen in these heartwarming videos, playing catch with their heroes on the field. You might see them on the diamond doing big things themselves in the future. Hear Hunter recall the whole story in the clip atop this post. 

Speaking with MLB.com's Christian Boutwell before Saturday's game with the Twins, Springer spoke to how much he looked up to Hunter as a kid: 

"There was something about the way he played that I liked and he became my idol ... I was only eight years old, and he doesn't know the impact he made on my life then. I basically tried to do everything the way that he did, with my own spin on it."

So much so that Springer looks back on that game of catch as a significant moment in his life: 

"I was just there one day and he was out on the field. And he threw me a ball and I threw it back and we just kind of kept playing catch. I'll never forget that. He didn't have to do it and he did it. It stuck with me. He changed my life and I was only eight years old."

Does Springer think about that moment when coming into contact young kids at the ballpark now?

"I do now because I'm an example of it. You never know the impact you can have on somebody just by saying hello or shaking a hand, whatever it is. Because my life got changed at an early age. I was eight years old [and mine was changed] by a guy playing Double-A baseball. To me that's like meeting Hank Aaron. I didn't know any better. The older I got, the more I understood it, and I wanted to be like that guy."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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