I have to admit, I’m absolutely fascinated by Buck Showalter. The mentality that he has instilled in the Orioles clubhouse and his daily approach to the game isn’t just brilliant, but I find it inspirational. The more I learn about the guy the more I want to know.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, formerly of the Baltimore Sun and currently of ESPN, shared a fantastic pre-game story that Buck Showalter told him back during his days covering the Orioles.

The story is too great to break up and analyze, so I’ll just share the whole darn thing.

When Showalter was a kid growing up in Florida, he loved baseball so much, he was always trying to beg his way into games with the older neighborhood kids. When he was roughly eight years old, he showed up at the local park with his glove, and refused to leave when the older kids tried to shoo him away. At one point, one of the older kids crushed a home run to center field, and the ball rolled under the porch of a big house that sat on the end of the lot. The older kids told Showalter, “If you craw under that porch and get the ball back, we’ll let you have an at bat. Showalter didn’t hesitate. He got on his hands and knees and crawled into the darkness, determined to find the baseball.

Somewhere deep underneath the porch, he found the baseball nestled next to a litter of pups. He thought it was kind of cute, but he didn’t give it much thought as he plucked the ball and turned around to make his exit. Waiting for him, at the front of the porch, was the mother of those pups. She lunged at him and bit him on the face, leaving a huge gash between his jaw and his neck.

Someone called his parents, and they took him to the hospital, and the doctors needed a ton of stitches to clean him up.

Hours later, the older kids at the park were stunned when Showalter — fresh stiches obviously still in his face — returned to the game. He was determined to get the at bat he’d been promised. He got the ball back, after all.

And you bet those older kids gave it to him.

That’s Buck Showalter. That’s the man who changed the culture in Baltimore, who refused to walk away from getting exactly what he wanted, even when things got a little bloody.