2017-03-30 / Community

More to the story

Mom explores reincarnation after son recalls life as famous ballplayer
By Jackson Hogan
Special to the Acorn


JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY—Cathy Byrd with son, Christian, 8, in front of Lou Gehrig’s childhood home. Her son’s conviction at age 3 that he had been that famous baseball player led Byrd to explore the idea of reincarnation. She’s written a book about the experience. 
Courtesy of Cathy Byrd JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY—Cathy Byrd with son, Christian, 8, in front of Lou Gehrig’s childhood home. Her son’s conviction at age 3 that he had been that famous baseball player led Byrd to explore the idea of reincarnation. She’s written a book about the experience. Courtesy of Cathy Byrd Christian Haupt is 8 years old. Like many kids his age, he plays sports, loves video games and wears a giant smile.

He’s an extremely gifted baseball player, excelling as a shortstop and pitcher for Simi Youth Baseball. But what really sets Christian apart, according to his mother, Cathy Byrd, is that he has memories of being baseball legend Lou Gehrig in a past life.

The youngster’s already earned a great deal of attention. In 2012, he appeared in the Adam Sandler film “That’s My Boy” after the actor saw the 3-year-old playing baseball in a video posted to YouTube.

A few months later, Christian threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game.


ON THE MOUND—Christian Haupt is a pitcher and shortstop in the Simi Youth Baseball league. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers ON THE MOUND—Christian Haupt is a pitcher and shortstop in the Simi Youth Baseball league. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers The spotlight is about to get even brighter.

Byrd has written a memoir, “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” that tells how she, as a devout Christian, came to grips with the idea of reincarnation. The book, published this month by Hay House, is being fast-tracked into a feature film from 20th Century Fox. The screenplay is by Randy Brown, who wrote 2012’s “Trouble with the Curve” and last year’s “Miracles from Heaven.”

Aware that many will view the story’s premise—that Christian was the famous New York Yankee slugger in a past life—with skepticism, Byrd is convinced the tale serves a greater purpose.

“Basically, what it came down to is that the message is bigger than us,” Byrd said. She and her husband, Michael Haupt, also have an 11-year-old daughter, Charlotte.

“We’re taking the chance and putting the story out there, even though it could hurt us or hurt our children, because I believe that our story really provided a message that can give people hope and faith.”

While she knows there will be many who doubt her story, Byrd is convinced her son’s uncanny passion and ability for the game of baseball is related to a past life.

“It’s a message that our souls survive this earthly existence,” she said. “The conclusion that I came to is that all that really matters in this lifetime is the difference we make in the lives of others.”

‘Tall baseball player’

By the age of 2, Christian had a borderline obsession with baseball, his mother said. He wanted to be on the field during every waking hour, and he insisted on wearing his uniform—even his cleats—to bed.

Byrd thought the phase would pass. But as she was tucking him in one evening after he’d turned 3, Christian said something that got her thinking.

“The first big thing he said was, ‘Mommy, I was a tall baseball player.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, you will be a tall baseball player,’ like a mom would do. He got so upset that he stomped his foot and said, ‘No, Mommy, I was a tall baseball player! I was tall like Daddy,’” Byrd said.

Each night at bedtime, Christian would tell stories of previous experiences related to baseball.

There were others clues.

During a visit to Boston’s Fenway Park, Christian reacted furiously to a photo of Red Sox legend Babe Ruth, his mother said.

“I don’t like him! He was mean to me!” Christian said.

He also made casual remarks about staying in hotels every night and traveling by train, not airplane, to baseball games, Byrd said.

When she showed her son a team picture of the 1927 Yankees, he pointed at Lou Gehrig and said, “That’s me.”

Pen to paper

After a few years, Christian became slightly less obsessed with baseball. He stopped wearing a jersey and cleats everywhere, and developed other interests, such as basketball and video games, while continuing to excel on the diamond. Byrd still occasionally heard Christian mention stories from a past life, though they were less frequent and spontaneous.

After Byrd, a real estate agent, enrolled in a writing class, she decided to write a memoir. She sent the finished story to Hay House Publishing in 2015.

“I saw people being really touched and moved by what I was saying, and that’s what inspired me to write the book,” she said.

Screenwriter Brown said he expects skeptics to scoff, but that doesn’t bother him.

“No movie satisfies everyone, but my job is not to try to sway anyone in their thinking one way or the other,” he said. “My job is to try and tell a story in a compelling, dramatic way and let people make their own decisions at the end of it.”

Christian’s PONY League coach, Nick Koep, said he was taken aback when Byrd first told him about Christian’s past-life memories, but he accepted it.

“I thought it was cool,” Koep said. “I have an open mind, and I don’t know enough about (reincarnation) to make a judgment on it.”

Byrd said she wanted to make it clear that “The Boy Who Knew Too Much” is not meant to change anyone’s minds on reincarnation.

“I feel like I have nothing to prove here, really. . . .” she said. “It’s not my job to convince people of anything, just to share our story.”

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