LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jake Henderson experienced his own piece of baseball history on opening day at Dodger Stadium.
The 8-year-old from Los Angeles was the first person to sit in the specially designated Kirk Gibson seat in the right field pavilion. To commemorate Gibson’s historic pinch-hit, game-ending home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, the Dodgers painted blue the seat where his ball landed.
Gibson autographed the back of the seat. He threw out the first pitch Thursday after a video tribute.
“It’s a wonderful thing to come back and remember all that,” Gibson said before the game. “It’s a lot of history here, a lot of tradition. I’m just honored to be part of it.”
The Dodgers are selling a package that includes a companion seat, two commemorative T-shirts and food and drink. The team is donating from each purchase to the Kirk Gibson Foundation to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s research. Gibson said in 2015 that he has the neurological disease.
Henderson attended the game with his parents. He got the tickets through some luck. His 75-year-old grandfather who lives in Miami read an article about the seat’s unveiling.
“He is a big fan of baseball, a big fan of history and a big fan of his grandson,” Henderson’s mom Lylle said.
On a lark, her father Bob reached out to the author to see if he could help the family get the seat on opening day. Jake, who is in second grade, wasn’t alive for Gibson’s homer but is a Justin Turner fan after watching the third baseman hit a walk-off homer in the playoffs last season on the 29th anniversary of Gibson’s.
“It feels amazing,” Jake said in between bites of peanuts.
The Little League third baseman planned to take notes to use on the diamond this season.
“I hit an inside-the-park home run,” Henderson said, “but not outside yet.”
He’s in the perfect place to learn from the greats.
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