ROTHSAY, Minn. — The look in Cole Fielder’s eyes said more than words.
When two Minnesota Twins baseball players and two of the team’s all-time greats walked into his bedroom Wednesday afternoon, the eight-year-old didn’t move.
But his eyes did.
“When his eyes go up, that means yes,” said his mother, Dori Fielder.
Twins Michael Cuddyer and Mike Redmond, along with Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and twotime World Series champion Dan Gladden, visited Cole as part of the Twins Winter Caravan.
Cole has Type I spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a motor neuron disease which causes the muscles to atrophy, and can’t leave the house during cold months.
Doctors diagnosed Cole with SMA when he was just five weeks old.
Today, Cole is in a wheelchair, on a ventilator, has no motor functions and can’t speak. His eyes are his only form of communication.
“I’m sure it’s a little overwhelming for him,” said Redmond, a catcher entering his second season with the Twins. “On the other hand, I’m sure it’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”
The caravan spent more than 30 minutes at the Fielder’s house in Rothsay, speaking with Cole and his family, taking pictures and signing memorabilia.
“I don’t think they realize what they really did for him and did for us,” Dori said.
The players said they do very few house calls during the regional goodwill tour, which also stopped in Duluth, Wadena and Fergus Falls on Wednesday.
“It’s very unique,” said Cuddyer, a third baseman entering his sixth season. “We don’t necessarily get to single homes.”
While the family rubbed shoulders with the players, the youngest members of the Fielder family, 5-year-old Tori and 4-year-old Noah, enjoyed playing with “T.C.”, the Twins mascot, who brought memorabilia items for the kids.
However, the most surprising moment for the Fielder family was the appearance of Killebrew, who wasn’t scheduled to be with the team.
“To come to a home like this, I think, is a pretty special thing to do,” said the 69-year-old Killebrew. “They’re real Twins fans here.”
That may be an understatement.
Everything in Cole’s room is associated with the major league team.
The pennants on the wall, the blanket on his bed and countless other Twins items show the family’s dedication to the baseball team.
The allegiance began when a Twins baseball game caught Cole’s attention four years ago.
“My brother just started watching it a little bit and he started liking it,” said 13-yearold Nick Fielder. “So we started watching it.”
Today, it’s his best outlet and a bonding tool for the Fielder family.
“I didn’t even start watching baseball until Cole started watching baseball,” said his father, Rick Fielder.
Kay Siebert, one of Cole’s former nurses, spent the past two years urging the public relations staff that handles the caravan to make a stop in Rothsay to visit Cole.
Siebert could hardly hold back tears of joy when she saw Cole with the players.
“I was just tickled,” Siebert said. “This is the kind of thing Cole really lives for.”