-- One group of Little Leaguers -– including a 14-year-old who battled cancer for years -- got to fulfill a cherished dream when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim invited them to play on their field.
It was a day of many firsts for the boys from the West Covina Little League in West Covina, California, whose love for the game and for their teammates extends far beyond baseball.
Jaylon Fong, 14, is a pitcher. He’s also a leukemia survivor, and he credits his baseball buddies with helping him through six years of treatment.
Playing “would make me forget about my treatments that I had at the hospital … it was a way for me to have fun,” Jaylon said.
The league’s coach, Bobby Hansen, said Jaylon would get treatments on Thursday and show up on Saturdays to play.
Hansen recalls their All-Star game win with Jaylon on the mound.
“He came in and got the last three outs for us and shut it down,” Hansen said of Jaylon’s performance.
Jaylon finished his treatments two months ago, and the visit to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim field last week was a back-to-school celebration for him and his teammates, with tips from an Angels coach and some baseball drills.
And then, the high point of their time there: a surprise visit from Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
The young players gathered around the player in excitement, and listened as he offered them some advice.
“I was in the same spot you guys are right now … Be a good kid and stay out of trouble and, you know, things will lead you in the right way,” he said.
He also added that they should practice.
Trout had a special greeting for Jaylon, and in turn, the teen handed his idol a “courage” wristband.
“I appreciate it, I’ll wear it right now,” Trout told the teen, adding: “If you watch tonight, I’ll be wearing it at the plate. Hopefully gets us some hits.“
Trout kept his word.