August Wold pulled on his tiny green No. 19 Athletics jersey, began swinging a Khris Davis bat from both sides while standing in front of his very own locker, then made sure everyone knew something was still missing.
“I hope I get to use batting gloves,” the boy said. “Do I get to keep all this stuff?”
Soon, slugger Matt Olson had provided a pair of his gray gloves. No matter they were several sizes too big.
All this 8-year-old Little Leaguer wants is to play for the A’s. They gave Wold the next closest thing with a mock contract and signing, complete with a press release announcing the deal, in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I feel good. It was an exciting thing for me, I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Wold said.
Wold, who is from the Northern California town of Redding and suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder that has required numerous surgeries, was unofficially added to the roster for Saturday night’s game against the Texas Rangers. He visited the clubhouse in uniform, and watched batting practice on the field. He even had his own press conference alongside general manager David Forst the way new players typically do when joining a team. Six members of the A’s stood behind him as he answered questions from the media.
After a quick reminder from his mother, Julie, that is: “Sit up tall, August.”
“This close to the trade deadline, we were excited August Wold was still available, so we have signed August to an A’s contract to be a member of our 2019 A’s team,” before the two signed the contract and shook hands on the podium. Of Wold’s strengths, Forst noted the boy’s versatility as a catcher and shortstop and, “August clearly loves the game, and we thought he would fit into our lineup pretty well for the last two months of the season.”
Wold sat in the dugout next to Liam Hendriks, who said, “Come on in, bro.”
“It’s hot in here,” Wold told the pitcher. The boy received fist bumps from other players and walked to the batting cage with Olson. Wold compared haircuts with Matt Chapman and chatted with shortstop Marcus Semien.
Wold has been playing baseball for a couple of years and already emerged as one of his team’s most reliable hitters.
“It’s great that he can be with us and see what we do, see what a professional’s life is all about, the way we work, practice and are passionate about baseball,” Semien said. “A lot of us in this room still feel like young kids ourselves. It’s our passion for the game, as much fun as we have. Hopefully we can brighten up his day and make him feel better because I’m sure he’s not feeling great all the time. For me as a parent, I feel for his parents, too. You never want anything to be wrong with your kids. Any time your kid’s sick, you worry. It’s just hard.”
Later, Wold was set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Along for all the fun and special moments were his parents and five of his six siblings.
“You’re doing lefty, too? You’re switch-hitting on me?” his father, George Wold said. “How’d you get to be a pro so soon?”
Wold has Hirschsprung’s disease, a birth defect in which the infant is missing some nerve cells in a part of the bowel. But he wasn’t diagnosed until nearly age 7.
Wold’s health is far better and “he’s on the road to recovery, hopefully,” his dad said.
“This is the world,” George Wold said. “Make-A-Wish is so phenomenal and they’re so great at figuring out what a kid wants. This is what he’s wanted for so long. He knows all the players, their numbers and everything. This is just so cool. He’s been through a lot and being able to come to this has been awesome.”
How did manager Bob Melvin plan to use him?
“I don’t know yet, I haven’t gotten the scouting reports yet,” Melvin said with a grin.
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