March 16, 2010
Writer: Writer: Mark Beck

A simple thank-you note changed Brigham Young University-Idaho student Hans Smith's life more than he ever could have imagined.

In 2008, the baseball fanatic, whose participation in the game has been limited to that of an observer due to the physical limitations of cerebral palsy, discovered a baseball videogame more realistic than any other he'd ever played. Smith was so satisfied with the game that he wrote Sony, the creators of MLB: The Show, a letter of appreciation. "I just thanked them for giving me an opportunity to do something that I would do in real life, but can't do because of something that is out of my control," he said.

A senior producer of the videogame was so touched by the letter that he called Smith and invited him to their San Diego studios. "He told me they wanted to make my dreams more of a reality," Smith said. "They scanned my head with a 360-degree camera and recorded my voice, and I signed a talent agreement so I could appear in the videogame."

Now, Smith appears in MLB 10: The Show, as a pitcher for his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Sony even agreed that his player would appear in the game every year until the franchise ends.

Smith is surprised at all that has ensued since writing the thank-you letter. "To me, all of this is a testament to the power of saying thank you," he said. "I've never thrown a ball or swung a bat, so my body doesn't know the difference between virtual and reality. To me, this is very real."

A special event has been planned in which Smith, playing as the Cardinals, will compete against his friend Zach Anderson, playing as the Chicago Cubs, in front of a live audience March 16 at 6 p.m., in The Crossroads, located in the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center. All are welcome to attend.