When Case students attended the Indians Game at Progressive Field during orientation, they unknowingly witnessed an endearing piece of history between a young fan and his favorite players. Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis both hit two-run home runs in the game on Aug. 24 during the Indians’ 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. Their two home runs were promises made to a young fan, Niko Lanzarotta. Niko is an eight-year-old boy from Strongsville, Ohio who has cerebral palsy. Niko fell in love with baseball playing in NEO Challenger Baseball in Brecksville, OH; a league that is for those with disabilities who are younger than 21. He and his family visited the field and Niko was able to meet Kipnis and Santana. Niko asked both players to hit home runs, a big promise for any ballplayer to make.
A ballplayer willing to bet on hitting a home run seems to be something of legend, like Babe Ruth calling his shot. However, in an amazing feat both players were able to hit homers for Niko. It was especially important for Santana, who had the added pressure of knowing that he is Niko’s favorite player. Santana hit his home run in the first inning and while rounding the bases he pointed up to the stands toward Niko. Kipnis followed suit and made good on his promise in the third inning with another two run blast.
The two home runs were instrumental in the Indians win, and Niko may be the Indians’ good luck charm. He and his family have been to six games in the past two years and all were wins, including two this season. It was a great game for the Case community to attend, and it became a little more special to know about the young fan who was also in attendance.