When life throws you a curve ball, you just keep swinging, right? That is exactly what wish kid Owen has done for the majority of his life. Owen, a seven-year-old from Everett, PA, is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Although Owen has had a couple of heart procedures, it does not stop him from having a ball while playing his favorite sport. For this young baseball fan, meeting his hero, Andrew McCutchen, at Pirates Spring Training truly hit it out of the park!
Owen’s sports retreat began as he and his family flew to Bradenton, FL, to attend the Pirates’ spring training. They checked into Pirates City, a state-of-the-art training facility that includes amenities such as dorms, suites, a clubhouse classroom, a dining hall, activity rooms, and of course, McKechnie Field. The whole family got a tour of the area, making sure they covered all the bases. This was a play-ball paradise for a Pirates fanatic.
That evening, Owen had a special dinner table set up for him with a personal, “Reserved for Owen” sign. The Pirates City dining hall was decked out in bounteous shades of blue, Owen’s preferred color. To top it off, the menu consisted of a few of his favorite foods, making it a fine dine for him and his family.
The next morning, he received a wake-up call video from none other than his hometown baseball hero, Andrew McCutchen. This baseball all-star recruited Owen up to the big leagues for the day’s game. He and his dad took a Pirates City van to McKechnie Field so Owen could get down and dirty in the dug-out. He accompanied the team to their pre-game workout routine, stretching along side of his new pal, while wearing his very own Pirates jersey.
Before the game began, the team huddled around Owen, all putting a hand in for their newfound teammate. As the park stood up in honor of the National Anthem, he was in his glory, watching Old Glory fly while standing beside Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Owen had his fifteen-seconds-of-fame when he threw the ceremonial first pitch of the game. It was a dream-come-true on the baseball field.
Although the Pirates lost to the Houston Astros, their true victory was meeting Owen, and helping to make his wish come true. When it was time for Owen to run home, he took many memories with him, and they will never strike out.