Toronto Blue Jays fan who gave home run ball to kid gets reward he deserves
It was the handoff and hug that warmed hearts around the world: the unexpected generosity of a Toronto Blue Jays fan towards a young New York Yankees fan taking a step above petty sports rivalries and making international headlines for its wholesome goodness.
After catching a sixth inning home run by Yankees slugger Aaron Judge on Tuesday evening, Jays fan Mike Lanzilota spotted nine-year-old Derek Rodriguez decked out in Yankees garb and immediately gave the ball to the tearfully thankful kid.
He likely had no idea how much his sweet gesture would pay off.
Michael gave Derek a home run ball last night. Today, they reunited 🤗— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 4, 2022
Baseball is the best 💙 pic.twitter.com/Qca6U7UD09
Lanzilota, Rodriguez and his father were all back at the Rogers Centre for Wednesday's rematch, and in a pre-game ceremony, they all got rare on-field access to meet Aaron Judge himself.
In what's turned into a domino effect of adorable moments, Rodriguez told Sportsnet and YES (Yankee Entertainment and Sports) that he now considers Lanzilota his "best friend." Just stop. Our hearts can't take it.
But that wasn't the end of the party, and in a reward for his trademark Canadian kindness, Lanzilota got a signed George Springer jersey from the star Jays outfielder himself.
What started off as an act of selfless sacrifice (who wouldn't have wanted that home run ball for themselves?) still has everyone talking, thanks to the Jays organization recognizing an opportunity to make fans' dreams come true while capitalizing on their viral news hit.
What a GREAT gesture by Mike Lanzillotta to give that young man Derek Rodriguez the baseball! The Blue Jays went one step further & provided the kid an experience he will never forget for the rest of his life! Meeting him favorite player Aaron Judge! AWESOME job by all involved! pic.twitter.com/uaSaeA6x0x— Willie Lopez (@WillieLopezShow) May 4, 2022
It's a sentiment echoed by former Blue Jay Kevin Pillar, who tweeted "Nobody is better than making these moments happen.. shout out to all the staff behind the scenes who make this moment happen for this young Yankee fan!"
Yes, baseball is the best. I had Yankee fans sitting all around me at the game yesterday. One started heckling a Blue Jays fan and the Yankee fan behind me stopped the heckler. We all have one thing in common, our love of the game!#BlueJays#NextLevel— Denise Lipson (@MapleDee) May 4, 2022
It didn't matter that the Jays had just given up a homer, or that Rodriguez is a fan of the hated Yanks. This exchange between two fans transcended sports rivalries, uniting two sworn enemy fanbases in the process.
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