Before Friday's game on Teacher Appreciation Night at Citizens Bank Park, a blind, seven-year-old boy named A.J. from Hopewell Elementary School met Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and told him, "I want you to hit a home run for me tonight."
In his first at-bat, Howard delivered. The cleanup hitter's second-inning, line-drive shot to right field off Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco was his fifth of the season and fourth in his last nine games.
"Oh my gosh! That was probably for me," A.J. said in an interview during the Phillies' broadcast.
Also included in the ceremony were the young children who nominated their teachers for recognition. Among them was a blind 7-year-old boy from Hopewell Elementary School named A.J., who had nominated his braille teacher. The young fan, who was diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), then got to meet Ryan Howard down on the field. That's an awesome night right there, but what happened next was pretty close to magical for everybody involved.[mlbvideo id="26821681" width="400" height="224" /]
First, young A.J. presented Howard with a wristband representing the cause to bring awareness to LCA, which was worn proudly throughout the Phillies 4-1 victory over the Marlins.