CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - While the Prospect League comes to a close many players look back to not just their experience on the field, but off as well.
Players form many deep bonds and for Catfish All-Star Dalton Doyle, he gained a deep connection with his host family and it all started with a home run and a gesture.
Cory, Kristen and Caden Daniel opened their home to Dalton while he play in the 2019 season.
During the Cape Catfish’s first home game, a fan retrieved Dalton’s third home run ball and wanted to return it to him.
"Somebody gave him back his third home run ball," said Cory Daniel. "He brings that home and said, 'But do you have a marker? I want to sign it and I want to give it to Caden.'"
The four-year-old held on the ball that night and didn't want to let go of it.
"I always wanted a little brother and I think it's a perfect match," said Dalton.
Caden is always around Capaha Park, playing his own game of baseball and cheering on Dalton.
“You’ll see him up near the fences and he’ll always be like 'Hey, Dalton. Hey, how you doing?,” said Dalton. “No matter if I’m in a bad mood or I’m happy, whatever. he just cheers me up and give me motivation to keep playing.”
Speaking of play, their connection runs well beyond Capaha Park.
"He likes to play fire trucks with me," said Caden. "I got him a fire truck for his birthday."
From birthday gifts to reading books, it is a summer they will remember forever.
"He's so much fun," said Caden. "He's teaching me how to play baseball."
Their relationship doesn't end when the Catfish stop playing.
“We just really became a family this summer,” said Kristen Daniel. “and just look forward to the years to come and to see him continuing his career.”
“It’s an ongoing relationship that’s going to be there forever,” said Dalton.
Dalton played in Prospect League All-Star game this year and will play for EIU this coming spring.