The Cleveland Indians are pushing for a playoff spot, and playing fairly well as of late. This weekend, the Tribe honored famous Indians super fan John Adams, who has beat the drum at home games for 40 years. They also granted a wish from a very young fan.
An 8-year-old Indians fan with cerebral palsy wished for two of his favorite players to hit home runs. And who could say no to a wish like that? Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis certainly couldn’t.
Before Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Niko Lanzarotta and his family were on the field watching the Indians take batting practice, which in itself was an unbelievable experience. Niko met several players including his two favorites; Kipnis and Santana and asked if they would hit a home run for him.
Santana, Niko’s favorite player, hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Kipnis added a two-run shot in the third inning. Niko’s night was made and his wish was granted as the Indians defeated the Twins 7-2.
Niko and his family live in Strongsville, a suburb of Cleveland. The 8-year-old boy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at eight months. The Indians may want to give Niko tickets to the remaining games as he seems to be a good luck charm. Not just because of his wishes Niko has attended 6 games this season and the Tribe has won all 6 games.
The Lanzarotta family came to Progressive Field with the whole family, Niko and his parents.
“It was an awesome experience,” Niko’s father 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.”
Both Santana and Kipnis were more than happy to oblige.
“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.
Mike Lanzarotta said that Niko fell in love with America’s pastime after playing in a league that is open to children with disabilities. His passion for the game also includes following the hometown team.
This story sounds familiar, and such a nice story has happened from time to time but for us baseball nerds, it brings to mind Babe Ruth back in 1926. The story began with a New Jersey boy, Johnny Sylvester, who was kicked in the head by a horse. Johnny supposedly told his father about his wish to see Babe Ruth “wallop a homer” before he died.
Just like a great father, he managed to get to Ruth via urgent telegrams. Ruth got the telegrams and sent back a package that included two balls, one autographed by members of the Yankees and the other by players from the Cardinals. The Babe included was a note that read “I’ll knock a homer for you on Wednesday”, in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series.
And that he did. But he didn’t just hit one home run, he hit three. After Ruth hit the three home runs in Game 4, newspapers reported that Sylvester’s condition had miraculously improved.
Sounds like Niko’s story, although…being a Clevelander…I like his story better.