Bank of America teamed up with the Los Angeles Dodgers to provide an opportunity of a lifetime of Special Olympics Southern California athletes from the Lakewood Dirtbags softball team and three from the Huntington Beach Tidal Waves.
As part of #MLBmemorybank, an initiative providing baseball fans experiences of a lifetime, the athletes were surprised throughout the day on Friday, July 28. What was billed as a tour of Dodger Stadium, turned into much, much more.
The players were surprised by center fielder Joc Pederson and his brother, Special Olympic athlete Champ Pederson. They held a practice on the outfield of the historic Stadium. It was then they were informed they had tickets to that night’s series opener against rival San Francisco. In addition, Joc informed Dirtbags’ starting pitcher Paul Lapre he was throwing out he first pitch. Lapre, who had a stroke three years ago and at 64 is the elder statesman on the team, broke down in tears at the news (he would throw a perfect strike).
The athletes were also treated to a tour of nearby LAPD Academy, a tour of Dodger Stadium, field access and autographs during batting practice, and a fireworks show following the game.
Joining Lapre on the field for the first pitch were teammates Krysten Augustine, Sam Mesa and Derrick Keeton. After the National Anthem, the four athletes started the game with “It’s time for Dodger baseball” to the more than 50,000 fans in attendance.
It was a day for the memory bank.