Sometimes real life turns out better than even Hollywood could imagine or script. According to the Associated Press, Before Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, the Cleveland Indians hosted 8-year-old Niko Lanzarotta and his family on the field to take in pregame warm ups. Niko has been afflicted with Cerebral Palsy since the age of 8 months. As he met several players, he asked his favorite player Carlos Santana to hit a home run for him. Perhaps hedging his bet, he also asked Jason Kipnis for the same. By the third inning, both had given Niko his wish, as Santana connected off of Twins hurler Liam Hendriks in the 1st inning, then Kipnis did the same in the 3rd. Both were two run shots as the Tribe cruised past the Twins 7-2 to keep pace with the American League leading Detroit Tigers (as well as strengthen their position for a potential Wild Card spot).
Niko’s dad Mike Lanzarotta was excited to have something so positive happen for his young boy (via AP):
“It was an awesome experience,” Mike Lanzarotta said. “It was the best day of his life. To meet Carlos, to be that close, and for him to hit a home run. … To see your kid that happy is a great thing.”
Likewise, both players echoed their excitement to put a smile on a boy’s face, who was dealt a tough hand in his brief life (via AP)
“They told me I was their favorite player, and I promised to hit a home run for him,” Santana said.
“He must be a good luck charm for us two,” said Kipnis, who broke an 0-for-19 slump earlier in the game and homered for the first time since July 21.
According to the article, the Indians are 6-0 when Niko attends their games, I’m sure they can/will accommodate the Lanzarotta family as often as they can make the 20 mile trip from suburban Strongsville, Ohio. They need all the wins they can get in the competitive American League playoff chase landscape.
– David Whitlock