Albert Wilhelmy and his son Otto were given an experience they will never forget July 8.
After spending a day together exploring downtown Cleveland and visiting the Play Ball Park set up for the All-Star festivities, the Lakewood residents were sitting outside Progressive Field ready to watch the Home Run Derby on the big screen.
Then, just mere minutes before the derby was set to start, their seats were instantly upgraded.
Jared Carrabis, a Red Sox and baseball writer with the website Barstool Sports, came up to Wilhelmy and his 9-year-old son and offered them two tickets to the event. Carrabis said he was given the tickets that day after he conducted an interview during one of the All-Star events. Since he had a media credential, he wanted to do some kind of giveaway and was specifically looking for a father and son.
“I just knew what that would’ve meant to me if someone had done that for my father and me for the ‘99 All-Star Game at Fenway when I was 10,” Carrabis said. “Of all my favorite memories that I have with my dad, a vast majority of them have been at a baseball field. Otto and his dad were a perfect fit.”
Carrabis put a video of the interaction on Twitter with the caption, “Grow the game.” As of Monday, the video has over 3,300 retweets and over 28,800 likes. Wilhelmy also took to social media afterward, tweeting a photo of Otto in the stands and captioning it, “Jared, Thank you for the incredibly generous gift to tonight's historic HR Derby. It was an incredible ending to an already amazing day Otto and I had just spent together. Your gesture will become legendary as the years pass and stories are passed down. Best wishes to you!”
Wilhelmy said that when Carrabis first walked up to them, it happened so fast and at one point in the video, he can be heard saying to Otto, “Can you believe this just happened?”
“Just as (Otto) was settling into the idea of sitting there and watching this thing on the screen, that’s when Jared walked up out of nowhere,” said Wilhelmy, a fourth-grade teacher at Kensington Elementary School and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with Lakewood High School’s football team. “He was genuinely so excited but also exhausted at the same time. We were very appreciative.”
Wilhelmy and Otto were treated to quite a show once they got to their seats in the 500 section of Progressive Field. Not only did they get to witness hometown hero Carlos Santana take part, but they also got to see a historic battle in the semi-final between Los Angeles Dodger Joc Pederson and Toronto Blue Jay Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
In the first round, Guerrero hit 29 home runs, breaking the previous record of 28 set by Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton in 2008. He reached the mark again in the semi-final and Pederson improbably tied the Blue Jays rookie at 29, forcing a one-minute swing off.
After Guerrero added on eight more home runs, bringing his total to 37, Pederson yet again matched him, with his 37th homer coming as time expired. A three-swing swing-off was up next and after Guerrero took his first swing over the left-field wall, he fell short on the next two. Pederson followed suit and a second three-swing battle was called for with the two tied at 38.
Guerrero sent two balls over the left-field wall, giving him a total of 40 homers for the round. Pederson sent his first swing over the short porch in right, but couldn’t tack on any more and lost 40-39. Guerrero went on to lose 23-22 in the final to fellow rookie Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, in another back-and-forth battle.
“I knew that the day was special, just to be able to spend it with your youngest son,” Wilhelmy said. “It was a chance for the two of us to just go hang out and do something special. A day like this was a lot of fun where he was able to just have me and no other distraction around him and I was able to have him.
“To go to the ballpark and to have something like that happen to you, it’s very special,” Wilhelmy added. “I got a chance to watch the video eventually and I was grateful that his reaction was what it was and that he was genuinely so excited to be receiving that gift.”
Carrabis said he’s done giveaways like this before with Red Sox games and has taken fans to games with him in the past as well.
“I just like to give young baseball fans a memory that will keep them passionate about the game as they grow older,” he said. “It’s very important to me.”
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