Jacob Trammell didn't simply want to meet his sports hero, Albert Pujols. He wanted to pick Pujols' brain. The 15-year-old wants to play in the major leagues some day and, after all that he's been through, the Make-A-Wish foundation arranged for him to spend a day at Busch Stadium with his idol, giving Jacob a unique look into the life of professional baseball players.
Jacob's mother, Debbie Trammell, discussed the highlights of her son's My Wish experience with ESPN.com.
What was Jacob's reaction when he found out he was going to meet Albert Pujols?
They had us keep it a secret for a while and he found out at school at a special assembly. He was in shock when everybody finally told him. ... The principal and the other people at his school knew about it and knew that it was going to be a surprise for him. We snuck in the back after everyone was already there so he wouldn't see us and think something was up.
Could you walk me through his day at Busch Stadium?
They came and picked us up on Tuesday at the hotel in a limo and took us to the St. Louis Arch. We went up in the [arch], and when we went back to the limousine, Fredbird [the Cardinals mascot] was waiting. We went to the stadium from there. He got to tour the clubhouse [with Albert] and got to see the different things the players did. Then, he got to go out on the field with Albert and do some batting practice. He got to talk with him and exchange autographs.
How did Jacob interact with the players and coaches?
I think he was in a state of awe. ... He was very courteous. He would go and shake their hands. He didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with all of the other players because they were preparing for the game. He got to see where they worked out and stuff. He was in shock most of the time -- had a smile from ear-to-ear for the entire day.
Was it good to see him have that departure from everyday life?
Yeah. To be able to forget about everything else and focus on what makes him happy, it was pretty exciting.
Has he always been a baseball fan and a Cardinals fan? Why did he choose to meet Albert as his wish?
He has always been a Cardinals fan. I think his grandpa probably started him on that. But he has been into baseball since he was probably 5 years old. As far as his choice of Albert, it was because he is such a great player. He likes his morals and the way he uses his Christian background, giving all of the glory to God. [Jacob] is kind of like that, too. Albert is a great player for him to look up to.
Jacob wants to play in the major leagues some day. Does he talk about that a lot? Is that something you guys discuss?
Yeah, he does, and he tries to figure out what he can do to make it there. He wants to show his coaches that he can get there because his coaches sometimes say, "Well, it will be very unlikely that any of you will make it into the majors or even into college ball." They're not real encouraging sometimes, but he's determined.
Since he wants to play in the MLB, what do you think it was like for him to see, up close, the routines of a major league player?
He wants to do it even more now because he saw how they trained and the different things. He said it just made him more excited to reach his goals. He said when he got out on the field, it was such a different atmosphere. I just think he felt good when he was out there.
He just finished up his freshman year in high school. Did he get to play a lot on the baseball team? How was that experience?
He made the freshman team. His chemo stopped in January, and they started baseball in February. So it was real close to getting over the initial trauma of all the poison in his body. ... He played off-and-on. He didn't play as much as he would have liked to just because he was trying to get his strength back. ... Right at the beginning, he wanted to jump back in and get back in shape, which was hard for him because his muscles didn't work the way they did before. He struggled with that quite a bit. He would get pretty frustrated because he couldn't do what he used to be able to do before all of the chemo.
What has he been like since meeting Albert? Do you think it has helped him?
Oh yeah. It was something that was a high [point]. There have been a lot of lows. Getting to do that and meet Albert was one of the highs. It was very exciting.