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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As a kid, many of fans emulated their favorite sports heroes. But MJ Huss is a Twin Cities toddler who transforms into his big league idols. That’s because MJ doesn’t just watch the game … he studies it.
“He watches the nuances of the players,” said MJ’s dad Matt. “He knows how to lead off the bases and all sorts of weird things you wouldn’t expect a two year old to know.”
The 2-year-old has taught himself how to hit just like the players in the Twins line up by watching them.
“He would watch them swing and you could just see it churning in his head, he’d be sitting there practicing it,” said MJ’s mom, Brandee. “He would come up to us and say ‘Mommy, look, I Cuddy’ and show me Cuddy’s swing.”
“We have literally not once showed him how to do anything associated with any specific player, ever. That was stuff he just picked up on his own,” said Matt.
When the Twins heard about the little slugger’s talent, they invited MJ onto the field for a batting practice.
Realizing where he was, MJ stood near the dugout, wearing a Justin Morneau T-shirt and holding his T.C. autographed bat, staring out at the players on the field.
One by one, the players on the diamond stopped practicing and approached the young fan to watch him do the impressions.
Twins outfielder Ben Revere picked up his bat and helped MJ master his swing which involves pushing your elbows together while holding the bat.
“That’s pretty good for being 2 years old,” Revere smiled. “I probably didn’t know what a bat was at that age.”
MJ’s tour didn’t stop at the field. He also got to meet his favorite player in a place fans don’t really get to go: the clubhouse.
Sitting just inside the clubhouse’s doors was Michael Cuddyer. Next to him, holding a big wooden bat was Jim Thome. Each towered over the star-struck 2-year-old.
“Are you MJ?” Cuddyer leaned forward with a big smile. “Nice to meet you.” Then Cuddyer smiled, “I hear you can do some batting stances, huh?”
The players went around the club house calling out batters’ and pitchers’ names — MJ happily imitated them.
Each impression brought around a bigger laugh — but none as loud as Delmon Young.
“He measures his feet,” MJ said squatting down, holding his bat by his toes.
“You don’t do that anymore,” Cuddyer called out.
“Not lately,” Young laughs as he watched MJ bounce in his batting stance — just as he does at the plate.
“I have a 3-year-old myself, Casey, and he’s the same way,” said Cuddyer. “He comes in here and knows everybody’s name in the clubhouse. So seeing MJ hits home with me because it reminds me of the time I get to spend with my son.”
Before he went back onto the field, Cuddyer gave MJ a special souvenir — his embroidered No. 5 wristbands.
Beaming with delight, MJ ran over to his mom to show them off, “These have a No. 5 on it! This is Cuddy’s!”
MJ may not know it now, but imitating the pros is the same way these players learned the game.
“When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of TV and when I had the chance to go practice, I was trying to do the same thing I was watching before,” said Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla.”You learn a lot from watching the older guys play baseball.”
Other Twins players said they didn’t start playing baseball until they were a little older than MJ, closer to ages 6 to 9.
But they all had the same advice:
“Baseball is a fun game and if you’re not having fun doing it, it’s not worth it,” says Cuddyer.
“It probably borders on an unhealthy obsession, because it’s all MJ pretty much thinks about,” Matt joked. “We want him to like it and we don’t want to force it on him. From the looks of it, it’s going to be a long road.”
MJ’s parents joke if he doesn’t become a major league slugger, he would have a successful career as a scout because he picks up on the details of the players game.
To see more of MJ at the plate or his trip to Target Field, visit the Twins Blog.