When it comes to sports and kids, most have a favorite team or a favorite athlete. For many, these figures can become someone they look up to or even become their personal heroes.
For nine-year-old Luca, when asked that simple but oh-so-powerful question, “if you could have one wish, what would it be?”, Luca wished to meet his heroes—the New York Yankees.
For Luca, his wish day began just like any other school day. He got out of bed, had breakfast and threw on one of his favorite New York Yankees t-shirts and headed off to school. Luca had no idea that today would in fact not be like any
other day—he was in for the surprise of a lifetime. While sitting in an assembly with his friends, a video began to play on the screen above the stage. The video was from Aaron Judge, an outfielder for the New York Yankees and one of
Luca’s favorite players. Judge had a surprise message for Luca. He began to tell him that his wish would be granted, and that he would be joining the New York Yankees that very day at Yankee Stadium. Luca’s shock was apparent— and the excitement from his friends and classmates gathered around him was, too. When the video ended, Luca’s entire school, who have supported him throughout his illness, lined the hallways and cheered him on with high fives and well wishes as he made his way through the main hallways and outside with his parents, where a limousine was waiting to take them to the stadium.
When they arrived at the stadium, Luca and his family received a guided tour of Monument Park and were escorted into the Yankee dugout. As Luca sat in the dugout, taking in how incredible it was to be there, he saw his favorite New
York Yankee, Aaron Judge, come around the corner to greet him. Like old friends, they sat next to each other and talked about baseball, their hometowns, and whatever else came across Luca’s mind. The private visit with Judge is a memory
that will remain with Luca forever.
When they were done, Luca got to experience the indoor batting cages where he took batting practice. He was coached by the team’s shortstop Didi Gregorious, who joked that he planned to give Luca tips, but after watching
him at bat, didn’t have much to say.
Everywhere he turned, members of the team could not wait to meet Luca. First baseman Tyler Austin showed him how to improve his grip, outfielder Brett Gardner asked to have a catch, and three-time MVP turned broadcaster Alex Rodriguez offered up some batting tips. As an added highlight, Luca got to sign off on manager Aaron Boone’s lineup card before the game and catcher Austin Romine called Luca over from the dugout at game time, to stand by his side on the field during the National Anthem.
For Luca, his day with the New York Yankees was one that gave him a new sense of thrill, excitement and energy to keep fighting. His wish will live with him in the weeks, months and even years ahead, serving as a life-changing memory that
came at a time when he needed it most.
Watch Luca's feature on the ESPN My Wish Series