When Alex Solis Jr. learned that he was going to the Dodger game on Saturday, July 13, he was extremely excited, almost to tears, in fact. Even though Alex lives only about an hour away from Dodger Stadium in Thousand Oaks, CA, he can’t just jump in his car and head on over to Dodger Stadium like most Dodger fans can. Why not? Because Alex has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheel chair and has been for his entire life.
Whether or not Alex knew that Saturday was the annual On-Field Dodger Photo Day or not I don’t know, I neglected to ask him; sometimes being overcome with emotion will do that to you. But in spite of his severe handicap, it was very obvious that Alex was having the time of his life quietly sitting in his wheelchair behind the barricades in center field at Dodger Stadium, happy just to be able to actually see his Dodger heroes in person.
Like many Dodger fans, Alex’s favorite player is superstar rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and Alex was visibly excited as Puig was slowly making his way towards his small piece of Dodger Stadium grass among a virtual sea of Dodger fans. The Photo Day event was winding down and Alex was beginning to worry that he might not get the opportunity to see his favorite Dodger, but what could he do? It’s not like he could just move closer to Puig.
But then something happened that Alex never expected; something that no one expected, in fact. Yasiel Puig, the same guy that has been bashed by members of the national media (based mostly on second and third-hand reports) for supposedly being arrogant, cocky and disrespectful, walked over to Alex, patted him on the shoulder and paused for a few photos. Puig then stepped back from the barricade, pulled his jersey over his head, and set it in Alex’s lap. He then turned and headed in, as he had already stayed out with the fans a little longer than he was supposed to.
As you might imaging, Alex was in total disbelief and completely speechless. He tried desperately to utter a thank you to Yasiel but the words simply would not come out. Alex then did what any true Dodger fan would have done – he held the jersey tightly in his hands staring at it as tears began to roll down his cheeks. He then did something that I never expected – he looked directly at the guy who had just captured all of this on film as if to say “Did you see that?”
I saw it, Alex. I saw Puig’s unsolicited act of selflessness. I saw what members of the national media have never seen and most likely never will. I saw a compassionate and caring Yasiel Puig create a moment and a memory that Alex Solis Jr. will cherish for the rest of his life. I saw the real Yasiel Puig.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)