The Oakland Athletics have invited a fan diagnosed with COVID-19 to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. Other teams should follow suit.
Justin Wilhite, an Oakland Athletics fan who tested positive for the coronavirus, has received an offer from A’s President Dave Kaval to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Oakland Coliseum on Opening Day when play resumes, MLB.com has reported. Wilhite had other health issues previously and has documented his progress on fighting the disease on social media.
This was a great move on the part of the Athletics. Though the spread of this virus has caused a delay in the MLB season, it’s also a story that transcends the game of baseball. People around the globe are facing a health crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and though baseball is just a game, it has an opportunity to bring some positivity to light in times like these.
Many people are currently battling this disease, including many sports fans. In the past, Major League Baseball has partnered extensively with Stand Up to Cancer and now they have another opportunity to make a difference. Other teams would be wise to follow suit and find a survivor of this disease to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day, showing that all teams and the entire league are united on this front.
It doesn’t have to be a formal contest, nor does it need to be mandated by the league. It should be up to each team to search the internet and to try to find a good story worth sharing.
The league has already made one good gesture by giving out $30 million – $1 million for each team – to ballpark employees who are impacted by the decision to shut down the game during this public health emergency.
Many are optimistic we will come out of this terrible situation stronger than ever. Allowing fans who have suffered to have the opportunity of a lifetime would prove that the game will come out of this stronger than ever as well. Let’s hope that more teams give fans this great opportunity.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.