By: Ellen Ward
Ed. Note: The 10-for-10 series is a chance for us at the Grizzlies to celebrate 10 years in Downtown Fresno by thanking 10 of our great fans. If you know a deserving fan who has helped support Grizzlies baseball that you would like to nominate, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most would say that infielder Brett Pill’s biggest fan is his mother, but she has some recent competition. Eight-year-old Rhett Noblett began playing little league this year, which sparked his interest in the Fresno Grizzlies. He witnessed his first professional baseball game at Chukchansi Park earlier in the season and that is where he laid eyes on his soon to be favorite player, Brett Pill.
“Brett was the first player to acknowledge Rhett,” explained his father, David Noblett. “Since then he always asks to go to games so he can watch him play.”
A few months later, Rhett attended the annual Grizzlies Baseball Camp that is run by Grizzlies players, coaches, and manager Steve Decker. He sported a different Pill jersey almost everyday of camp, which caught the eye of staff members and players.
When asked what position Rhett plays in little league, his father chuckled. “Second base, just like Pill.”
“He seems so genuine,” admits David. “He is always one of the first players to sign autographs for kids before the game. Fans notice things like that.”
Even when the Grizzlies are away from Chukchansi Park, Rhett always asks his parents to check the game online to see how Pill is doing that night.
Pill knew exactly which kid it was when he was asked about his youngest fan.
“I think his name is Rhett, which is close to mine,” Brett explained of how the two met. “[Rhett] was at the camp with the Pill jersey on and Decker asked me to come the last day. So the first time I met him was the last day of camp and then he bought my jersey that night at the jersey auction.”
When a fan purchases the jersey at an auction, they are escorted onto the field to pose for pictures with the player. Before Rhett and his father even approached him on the field, Pill was looking into the stands, trying to get his family’s attention so he could point out his young fan to them. Brett took a knee and posed for pictures with Rhett and his new, game-worn jersey.
“His dad said he had three jerseys with my name on it and always wants to know how I did,” Pill reflected. “Its kind of cool because sometimes you get caught up playing everyday in the grind and you see something like that and it definitely inspires you to play harder.”
Rhett probably never thought that he would inspire his favorite player to run a little faster or dive for the ball a little harder, but that is exactly what he is doing.
“They come to most of the games and sit kind of by first base,” pointed out Brett. “Hopefully he is there a lot so I can get to know him even more.”
Rhett and his family plan on attending as many Grizzlies games as they can to get a glimpse of Pill before he reaches the majors. It just goes to show that even the smallest fan can have the biggest impact on a player, even one on the brink of the majors.