This is a story of Mutual Musials. Say that three times fast.
Or, instead, savor the story of Brett Phillips and Chloe Grimes. She inspires him to spread kindness. He inspires her to keep up the fight against cancer. They’ve turned this simple synergy into Musial magic.
Even before they met, Brett was Chloe’s favorite player with the Tampa Bay Rays. She loved his motto, “baseball is fun,” and his signature airplane celebration, which he famously displayed after delivering the winning hit in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series. They met in April at a Rays game, when Chloe was honored as the Tuesday’s Champion with the Children’s Dream Fund following a relapse of cancer. A softball pitcher, she came prepared to deliver the ceremonial first pitch with a good luck wristband, a softball and note, hoping to give them to Brett. Not knowing Chloe was a fan of his, Brett volunteered to receive the pitch because, “I’ve been blessed with this platform. Let me bless someone whose circumstances are not good right now.”
So, imagine his surprise when, after displaying her “cannon of an arm,” Chloe ran from the mound to meet him with multiple presents. “This is someone who is battling cancer, showing up with such good energy,” Brett says, adding of the wristband, “I’ll never forget her giving it to me and saying, ‘This will bring you good luck.'”
Three innings later, as Chloe and her mom, Jacquie, were interviewed on TV, Brett hit the longest home run of his career − so high and so far that the ball got stuck on a catwalk. He found out after the game that Chloe was being interviewed when he hit the dinger.
“I was so emotional,” he says. “For me, my relationship with God solidified another moment in my career. There’s no questioning there’s something better and greater for us.”
The Rays later retrieved the ball; Brett signed it and gave it to Chloe in a surprise visit to her house. “I was like, ‘What in the world is going on here?'” Chloe says. “I hop off my bike and he comes out and I run up to him and jump on him.”
Brett and the team also helped pay her medical bills, and his glove sponsor, Wilson, was so moved by their story that it invited Chloe to design a glove for herself. It includes her name and signature phrase: Princess Warrior. Brett liked it so much that he uses the identical model.
“I thought she was going to go crazy with the rainbow colors, but she didn’t want to embarrass me. And my heart melted,” he says. “It’s close to the way I would customize a glove. This is a really cool glove.”
Both traveled a rocky road through the season. Chloe underwent surgery to remove her thyroid but notes, “He gave me the spirit to beat the butt out of cancer.”
Brett was traded to Baltimore, then assigned to the Class AAA Norfolk Tides. But he has maintained ties with Chloe and her family, even joining them on a fishing trip.
“I have been very bad at baseball,” he says with a glance at Chloe’s wristband, “but every day I wake up and look down at this and regardless of what I’m going through, you have a girl that’s 9 years old, battling cancer for the second time. She shows up every day with love and energy. There’s no reason why I can’t continue playing baseball and go through my struggles with a smile on my face.”
Each also takes inspiration from the other about a brighter future. Brett is thinking in the short term, saying of his Chloe-designed glove: “It’s going to make a lot of great plays for me next year. If I get razzing, (teammates) will have to know the story, and I’m sure they’ll knock it off real quick.”
Chloe is thinking bigger picture. “When I have kids,” she says, “I’ll show them the ball.”
Mutual Musials. Mutual Musials. Mutual Musials. That’s hard.
Chloe and Brett. That’s perfect.