Grandparents of Santa Fe player are always in stands

Ruth and Ron Grove, left, have seen all of the Santa Fe (Fla.) College games this season. The Groves were going to games to support their grandson, Jordan Hollis, right, but after Hollis was injured, the Groves continued to go to the games. The Groves traveled from Jacksonville, Fla., to watch the Saints at JUCO.

Ron Grove loves numbers.

Here are two:

• 23,600 — the number of miles he and his wife, Ruth, have put on their 1999 Nissan Quest minivan while traveling to their grandson Jordan Hollis’ baseball games the past two years.

•  0 —the number of their grandson’s Santa Fe games they have missed.
Santa Fe College is in Gainesville, Fla. The Groves live in Jacksonville, Fla. nearly 100 miles from Santa Fe’s campus.

“We’ve never missed an inning,” Ruth said.

There are likely dozens of families at this year’s Alpine Bank Junior College World Series who made financial sacrifices to attend this year’s event. For Ron and Ruth, both 69, not attending JUCO would have been the sacrifice.

And technically, their grandson didn’t even play this season.

After starting at catcher his freshman year, Jordan Hollis couldn’t play this year — his sophomore season — because a teammate accidentally broke Jordan’s right hand during batting practice one week before the season started.

Ron and Ruth decided Jordan wasn’t the only young man they wanted to cheer for.

“I don’t care if they are 20 years old,” Ruth said. “Sometimes they need support. ”

This year, Ron and Ruth, a retired railroad worker and nurse, respectively,  showed up more than 60 minutes early to each game to reserve their seats behind Sante Fe’s dugout — home or away — and spray the dugout with bug spray.

“Those stupid gnats,” Ruth said. “They are worse than mosquitoes.”

In addition to bringing bug spray, Ruth and Ron also brought Gatorade and gum, have done players’ laundry and given the young men headache medication, Jordan said.

During Saturday’s game, Jordan turned toward his grandmother and shook his empty bag of sunflower seeds. Ruth immediately whipped two bags of seeds from her purse and rushed them down to Jordan.

“I’m pretty lucky,” Jordan said after Saturday’s game. “I can’t really explain it.”

Jordan never had to ask his grandparents to come to his games, he said. They just come, ever since he was 4-years-old and swinging a T-ball bat.

Jordan’s family grew up close to Ruth and Ron in Jacksonville, which made it easier to attend Jordan’s games, Ruth said.

“If you have a ball, bat and a couple guys, we’ll be there,” Ron said.

While Jordan was in high school, Ruth missed one game with an 105-degree temperature, but “Grandpa went.”

“I have such a soft heart for these kids, especially when their parents can’t come to games,” Ruth said.

And there are many parents of Santa Fe players who did not make the trip to Grand Junction.

The team qualified May 13 for JUCO, giving families and friends less than two weeks to plan the trip to Colorado.

May 13 also happened to be Ruth’s birthday. Shortly before midnight on May 13, Ruth’s cell phone rang. The ring tone was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” It was Jordan. That’s his ring.

Ruth answered and heard the entire team singing “Happy Birthday” in the background.

“That really touched me,” Ruth said.

Even though this is Jordan’s final season at Santa Fe, the 20-year-old catcher will continue his baseball career at Valdosta State University in Georgia next fall. Ron and Ruth plan to follow their grandson no matter where he plays.

Valdosta is about 120 miles from Jacksonville. Ron’s already looked it up. Remember, he likes numbers.

“We’ll be going north instead of south,” Ron said. “That’s the only difference.”


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