Strongsville boy with cerebral palsy asks favorite Indians players to hit home runs and they deliver

Indians Santana & Kipnis find good luck charm

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - Two Cleveland Indians players found a good luck charm works in an 8-year-old Strongsville boy.

Niko Lanzarotta was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 8 months old. He works so hard to do the simplest things and struggles every day to get stronger.

For fun, Niko plays on a special needs baseball team, the Northeast Ohio Challengers Baseball League. He loves baseball and he loves to watch the Cleveland Indians.

"Every night we have to watch the games and also he watches the replays of the Indians every morning while he's getting ready for school," said Mike Lanzarotta, Niko's dad.

Niko was invited to watch batting practice and see his favorite players, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis. That's when Carlos walked over to talk to Niko.

"For him to take the time out of batting practice to come over just to see Niko was very emotional," Mike Lanzarotta said.

From there it only got better. Jason Kipnis came over to talk and take pictures.

Carlos came back to give Niko his bat. Jason would not be outdone.

"Jason told him ‘Just in case Carlos' bat don't work, here you can have mine,'" Mike Lanzarotta said.

They also gave him a signed ball and shirt, but Niko asked for more. He asked both of them for a homerun.

How could they say no to Niko? Santana hit a two-run homer in the first and Niko went crazy. His dad said he was screaming like a little girl.

Once again, not to be outdone, Kipnis nailed a two-run shot in the third breaking a 0-for-19 slump. Niko went crazy over that one too.

"I want to personally thank Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis for making a memory for a lifetime," said Mike Lanzarotta.

Niko's story is a familiar one in baseball. Something similar happened in 1926 when Babe Ruth hit not one, but four homers in the World Series for a dying boy.

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