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With Kids in Sports Bubbles, These Parents Are Desperate for a Way In

“It’s a complete split of, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is everything that he’s wanted, I couldn’t be happier for him,’” she said, “and simultaneously my heart is breaking because all I want to do is be there to support him.”

When their call ended, she dialed his agent, Mark O’Brien.

“‘All right, so what are the chances we can get some sort of an exception?’” she recalled asking. “Mark’s like, ‘Yeah, good luck with that.’”

She flashed back to the sight of her young son wearing a diaper, holding a glove on the wrong hand and declaring his desire to play in the majors.

“Well, you better get practicing, buddy,” she told him then.

He ran outside to practice, and she often joined him. When Peterson was 9, his father, Doug, died of an accidental drug overdose, and his mother assumed the role of playing catch with her son. She traveled with him across the country to games, from California to Cooperstown, N.Y. They talked about his eventual debut as he made his way through the minors, but neither envisioned her sitting in the family room watching the game by herself, too nervous to watch with others.

After he negotiated his way through five and two-thirds innings on July 28, getting out of a bases-loaded jam en route to earning the win, she watched him leave the mound and sent him a text message.

She figured he would not call that night, but he did on the way to the team bus. She was in bed.

“My heart was very, very full,” she said.

Chris Olsen, 68, knows the routine. His son, Greg Olsen, 35, has logged 190 career games as a tight end in the N.F.L., and is now in his 14th season. Chris Olsen coached his son at Wayne Hills High in New Jersey, and after retiring from that job in 2013 he followed his son south to North Carolina, where he was with the Panthers.

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