CLEVELAND — Some home runs mean a little more than others.
Two Cleveland Indians home runs Saturday night meant a great deal to an eight-year old boy from Strongsville.
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Niko Lanzarotta of Strongsville was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at eight months, and gets around with the help of a walker.
He was on the field before the game Saturday, where he hoped to meet Carlos Santana, his favorite Indian.
When he did, Lanzarotta told Santana to hit a home run for him.
Then he met Jason Kipnis, whom he also told to hit a home run.
Though he met other players, he did not make the same request.
Lo and behold, Santana and Kipnis both hit two-run home runs in a 7-2 Indians win. And they did it into a fierce wind blowing in from right field. Santana blasted a 413-foot shot through the wind, Kipnis hit a line drive under it.
“He must be a good luck charm for us two,” Kipnis told the Indians after the game.
“(The family) told me I was their favorite player, and I promised to hit a home run for him,” Santana said.
Promises are one thing.
Actually doing it is another.
Especially with two different players.
“It was the best day of his life,” Mike Lanzarotta, Niko’s father, said Sunday.
Lanzarotta became enamored with baseball playing NEO Challenger Baseball in Brecksville, a league open to kids with disabilities.
Niko has attended six Indians games in his life, and the Indians have won all six. He was on the field pregame Saturday with his father and mother Kasia, who is pregnant with twins. Her boss used Tribe Rewards points so the family could have the experience.
It was clearly an experience the family will not forget.
“To meet Carlos,” Mike Lanzarotta said, “to be that close, and for him to hit a home run … To see your kid that happy is a great thing.”