CLEVELAND - First he got a home run ball, and then a bat and batting gloves. Now he's a member of the "Goon Squad".
Six-year-old Jake Raffin was a little bleary-eyed in his first-grade classroom on Wednesday, but the lesson learned at Tuesday night’s Indians game will last him forever.
Jake and his dad Dominic stayed for the entire game against the White Sox.
After the Indians lost the lead in the top of the ninth, Tribe slugger Jason Giambi won the game in the bottom of the inning hitting a two-run, two-out, walk-off home run to the right field seat – a home run ball Jake ended up with in his glove.
“I remember my eyes getting bigger and bigger and telling Jake ‘It’s coming right at us Jake!’” Dominic said.
The ball bounced off someone near them.
“The next thing I know Jake’s sitting against the (White Sox) bullpen fence playing catch with the ball in his glove.”
After the game, Giambi wanted the ball to remember the home run. A trade for a Giambi-signed bat was arranged through a mutual friend in Indians’ clubhouse, Tony Amato.
“The bat Jake got, he thought that was cooler than the ball,” Dominic said.
Thrilled with the bat, things were going to get even better for the Rocky River boy.
On Wednesday, Jake received an invitation to come back to Progressive Field with his family to attend another game and meet with local media. After dad spoke at a news conference, Giambi walked in to the media room and surprised Jake with more Tribe gifts.
“I just wanted to come by and thank you for the graciousness out of your heart for giving me that ball back. I really, really appreciate it,” Giambi said to the dazed youngster. “And I want to make you an official member of the Goon Squad.”
Giambi then gave Jake a “Goon Squad” T-shirt and batting gloves.
The Goon Squad is a nickname for Indians bench players who have contributed to this season’s success.
Jake reached out and slapped Giambi’s hand. Already Jake’s favorite player, Giambi has endeared himself even more.
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