Giambi gets walk-off memento from young fan
First-grader Raffin exchanges homer ball for autographed bat, meets slugger next day
CLEVELAND -- His son, Jake, might have had school the following morning, but Dominic Raffin did not care. The two were going to stay to watch the Indians bat in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night, even though all the enthusiasm had been sucked out of Progressive Field moments earlier by two crushing White Sox home runs.
It's a good thing they did. With two outs away and Michael Brantley on second base, Jason Giambi came into the game as a pinch-hitter and blasted a walk-off home run to right field, sending the Tribe to a thrilling 5-4 victory.
Little Jake, a first-grader who lives in Rocky River, Ohio, is the person who came up with the ball.
"You could hear it crack off the bat no matter where you were at in the stadium," his dad said on Wednesday at Progressive Field. "I just remember my eyes getting bigger and bigger, going, telling Jake, 'It's coming right at us, Jake. It's coming right at us, Jake.' It hit somebody and the next thing I know, Jake's sitting against the bullpen fence, playing catch with the ball in his glove, just like nothing happened. Another day for Jake."
Through home clubhouse manager Tony Amato, a family friend, the Raffins were connected with Giambi, who hoped he could have his home run ball. After the game, Jake exchanged it for an autographed bat. A day later, Giambi appeared during the news conference at the ballpark and presented Jake with a pair of batting gloves and a "Goon Squad" T-shirt in appreciation.
Before Giambi showed up, Jake was sitting off to the side next to his mother, Wendy. He didn't say much, but at one point he was asked about his favorite player. Without hesitating, Jake said, "Jason Giambi."
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.