DETROIT — Jean-Luc has grown up a Tigers fan in North Carolina through his dad, and dreamed of going to a game and watching Miguel Cabrera bat. Like his favorite team, the 16-year-old knows a thing or two about defying expectations.
When Jean-Luc was very young, he was diagnosed with autism, hypotonia, ocular albinism and horizontal nystagmus. Doctors originally told his family he would not be able to walk, talk or see beyond 10 feet in front of him. However, Jean-Luc attends high school, participates in his school’s marching band, serves as statistician and assistant manager for the school’s baseball team and has a passion and aptitude for music and numbers.
Jean-Luc’s love of statistics blended perfectly with his love of the Tigers. Through the Dream On 3 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps create sports experiences for children with chronic illnesses or life-altering conditions, he connected with the Tigers during the COVID-19 pandemic and received a video message from catcher Grayson Greiner, along with goodies and an invitation to attend a game in 2021.
On Friday, the Tigers and the Dream On 3 Foundation made that wish come true, surprising Jean-Luc with a trip to Detroit for him and his family and a suite at Comerica Park for their series opener against the Rays.
Jean-Luc didn’t know about the trip until he was presented with a jersey at school on Thursday.
“Pretty awesome,” he said, putting two thumbs up.
Jean-Luc and his family flew up from North Carolina. He received a special announcement on the flight and a round of applause from the passengers. The family arrived at Comerica Park in time for Tigers batting practice, where Jean-Luc met third baseman Jeimer Candelario, outfielders Derek Hill and Akil Baddoo and Hall of Famer Alan Trammell. He also met Tigers assistant general manager Jay Sartori, who oversees the team’s analytics department.
The Tigers provided a tour of the press box, where Jean-Luc saw the broadcast production work, as well as some of the media duties. He also met former Tigers great Willie Horton and Jim Price. Jean-Luc announced Baddoo as the Tigers’ leadoff batter against Rays starter Michael Wacha, nailing the pronunciation.
Jean-Luc and his family then watched the game from the Bally Sports Detroit suite, where Jean-Luc saw Cabrera extend his hit streak to nine consecutive at-bats with a pair of singles. They returned for Saturday’s game as well.
Tigers honor first responders
The Tigers continued their annual tradition of honoring local first responders on Sept. 11, welcoming them on the field as part of a pregame ceremony.
Roseville fire chief Brian Kanigowski, White Lake police chief Daniel Keller, and Kristen Kasten, a communications supervisor at Huron Valley’s dispatch center, all threw ceremonial first pitches.
Northville Township fire department lieutenant Christopher Madzik performed the national anthem.