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Orlando Hudson Always an All-Star

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Post by Zack Jerome/Special to LAist

Baseball is often used as a metaphor for life. In so many ways, it is about the moments. Not just the moments on the field, but every moment from the time you enter the stadium gates until you leave.

Some are content to gloss over these details, fixated on box scores and home runs and batters charging the pitcher’s mound. To leave it at that is to miss the more human side of the game, the side that makes you ignore the bloated player salaries and the excessive cost of beer and hot dogs at the stadium. There’s humanity in the tiniest moments.

One such moment occurred this Saturday during the ThinkCure! fundraising weekend that helped raise over $210,000 for cancer research. As is tradition at Chavez Ravine, some lucky kids get to take the field with the Dodgers. Each child gets the thrill of running out of the dugout and getting a quick autograph from their designated Dodger.

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On this particular day, a little girl ran out to greet Orlando Hudson on his way to second base. She wore a tiny pink beanie on her head to cover her scalp, which had lost hair presumably from cancer treatment. Shy in her movements, she approached the larger-than-life second baseman.

I found myself transfixed on the interaction. My eyes welled up behind my Ray-Bans. I am no stranger to oncology units and I have always marveled at how varied the reaction to a cancer patient can be. The reactions can seem harsh, but I think that comes from staring at our own fragility. We are all so frighteningly impermanent and cancer reminds us of this. It takes a very strong person to put it in perspective and offer love and empathy without adding weight to an already difficult situation.

Orlando Hudson is a very strong person. The second baseman with a permanent smile got down on his knee and greeted the shy girl with a hug. This was the kind of hug family members give after not seeing each other for a long time.

Hudson proceeded to sign her baseball for what seemed like minutes. The rest of the infield had already begun warming up by the time he finished writing a note on the leather sphere and handing it back to the shy girl in the pink beanie. I’ll always wonder what he wrote.

She gave him one more hug and those of us in the crowd that happened to be watching saw something beautiful. This was a ballplayer.

You got the sense he put it in perspective. Baseball players can be heroes, but cancer survivors really are. They find out they have no choice but to fight an incredible uphill battle that will truly test them mentally and physically. Hudson seemed to understand this and honor this little warrior by making his few moments with her special. She had his full attention.

It may be a small thing, but it is the small things that seem to help us keep moving one foot in front of the other. He didn’t cure the little girl or ensure she’d never have to fight that horrible disease another time. He just showed her that a man who is a hero to so many felt the same way about her. When she turns on the Dodger game and sees Hudson at second base, she’ll know he is behind her. In this life, we can use all the help we can get.

Hudson has a one-year contract with the Dodgers. He’ll have a lot of money coming to him next year and a lot of suitors trying to pay it to him. Hudson should remain a Dodger. The McCourts try to do well for our community. Along with ThinkCure!, they also build inner-city baseball fields, something Hudson himself supports. Maybe we all love Manny Ramirez and the excitement he brings to the Ravine, but for me, I’ll take Hudson. That’s the face of my organization. He’s the guy I want in the white jersey with blue cursive written across the heart.

Orlando Hudson is a class act. He’s a Dodger.