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Baseball brings family together as boys head off to separate championships

Jun 15, 2023Jun 15, 2023

SALEM, N.H. — The game of life may have thrown some curve balls for the Griffin-Palmer family, but they endured to win the game.

It’s all about baseball for the family who has four boys — ages 4 to 11 — all involved in Salem Youth Baseball.

This weekend, the parents will divide and conquer as the two eldest boys are headed with their respective state champion teams to Little League championships.

Owen, 10, will pitch for his team in a championship tournament in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Gavin is ready to catch for the 12U Little League All-Stars in Bristol, Connecticut, that have the chance to advance to the big dance in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to represent New England at the Little League World Series.

Baseball is a walk in the park after the last several years for the brothers — and their parents.

The three eldest boys lost their father, Brendan Griffin, in 2016 when he suffered a brain aneurysm.

Gavin, Owen and Ian were just 4, 3 and 11 months old at the time.

On top of that, Gavin was born with a heart defect called pulmonary valve atresia. He underwent his first surgery at two days old, followed by another surgery at 7 for a temporary valve. Gavin will likely need another surgery when he becomes a teenager.

It’s been an uphill battle for Gavin and his family, but they’ve persevered through it all.

“He’s been through a lot,” his mom Rose Griffin-Palmer said. “To make it this far in baseball, he’s come a very long way.”

“Gavin hasn’t let it stop him from playing sports,” stepfather Matt Palmer said.

There’s no pressure for Gavin when it comes to the New England Regionals after all his family and himself have been through. It’s going to be fun.

“I know we are going to win it,” Gavin said.

Cool, calm and collected describe the young baseball stars who began playing the sport about six years ago when their future stepdad came into their lives.

“They were a football family before I met them,” Matt said with a laugh.

Baseball wasn’t the boys’ first interest when Matt met Rose and her sons back in 2017, a year after their father Brendan died. At the time, they played football influenced by their father’s passion for the sport.

When Matt Palmer came into their lives, the family was looking for a spring sport. He said he has never tried to replace the boys’ father, but be a positive role model for the kids in any way he can.

“I’m pretty sure Brendan sent him here to help the boys push through,” Rose said.

He was quickly welcomed into their lives and involved getting them to sports practices and games with Rose.

Now all four boys, including youngest Landon, 4, who’s in T-ball, eat, sleep and breathe baseball — along with hockey.

Three of the boys are catchers, while one is a pitcher and shortstop.

Matt has coached in the organization for three years and a board of directors’ member while Rose is endlessly dedicated to helping her kids succeed.

Owen and Gavin said they were up for the challenge of breaking out of their comfort zone and trying a new sport.

Ian, 8, and Landon eagerly followed suit.

Baseball is also an activity the boys share together.

Landon looks up to his brothers who taught him how to catch. He chose No. 2 for his jersey because Gavin wears the same number.

Rose and Matt said the boys head out in the backyard to play with each other when they aren’t at their own practices. The calendar fills up quickly with four boys in the youth sport.

Baseball has become as much a family activity as a social aspect for the boys. Each enjoys being a part of a team and playing with friends.

Owen and Gavin reiterated they are most excited for their championship games to be with friends and help them win.

While the boys — and Matt and Rose — will be pulled in separate directions this weekend, the family will be keeping track of the games.

And they’ll have another cheerleader who’s always in their corner.

“Matt and I tell always tell the boys, ‘Daddy’s there and watching,’” Rose said.

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