The Spotlight Finds the Heroic Man in the Los Angeles Dodgers Hat
Tom Artiaga battled flames to carry a man to safety.
— -- The video -- showing flames and panic, a house engulfed by fire -- circulated around the world.
A resident was trapped inside the burning Fresno, California, home, when a man wearing a blue Los Angeles Dodgers cap calmly walked amid the flames and carried the man to safety.
And then the hero disappeared, his identity unknown for days, only recognized by his hat.
Eventually the man was identified as Tom Artiaga, a married father of three who works as a truck driver. Artiaga and the resident he pulled from the burning property –- Robert Wells –- met in person following the Oct. 18 rescue.
Artiaga, still in his Dodgers cap, was honored on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Thursday –- “tricked” to attend because of his reluctance to be in the spotlight, Kimmel said.
Artiaga explained the daring rescue.
“I was just going to do a side job,” he explained.
The fire was hot, he said. No, he doesn't have experience as a rescue worker.
“Do you have a cape that you wear on weekends?” Kimmel asked.
“No,” Artiaga said.
Kimmel rewarded Artiaga with gifts –- tickets for Disneyland, a Dodgers jersey. And then a guest appeared, legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
Lasorda read a proclamation.
“Thomas has exemplified a selfless heroism to help his fellow man. It is a pleasure to proclaim that Thomas and his family will be our guests at a Dodgers game next season and Thomas will throw out the first pitch. From everyone in the Dodger organization, thank you, Thomas. You are a true blue hero and you have a great first name.”
A bumper sticker was made for Artiaga, too: “Ask me about the stranger I heroically pulled out of a burning house.”
The audience clapped –- a deep, hearty cheer, too, not the simple perfunctory applause for the celebrity du jour touting their latest project.
Artiaga started to cry. Bumper stickers? Late night television? He didn't ask for any of this. He simply wanted to help. But after heroism made the man in the Dodgers cap a viral star, the spotlight finally found him, too.