For most baseball players, the number 305 doesn’t represent any particular milestone. But for Ryan Howard, the number will forever be special. The Phillies slugger blasted his 305th homerun at the request of a young and passionate fan.
A.J. Moncman is a 7-year-old Lehigh Valley boy who is legally blind due to a rare disease called Leber’s congenital amaurosis(LCA). He’s also a diehard Phillies fan. The young student nominated his teacher, Bethann Molinari for the Phillies’ “Teacher Appreciation Night.”
“I was very honored,” said Molinari. “It was a huge compliment.”
Molinari received her award before the Phillies game last Friday against the Marlins and brought A.J. with her. That’s where the two met Ryan Howard.
“You could tell he was true,” she said. “He was a genuine guy.”
A.J. gave Ryan a bracelet from his organization, “Raising Awareness for LCA.”
“I said, ‘I hope this braille bracelet gives you good luck,’” said A.J. “I said, ‘You don’t have to put it on right now’ but he said, ‘Done deal,’ and put it on.”
It was then that A.J. had a very special request.
“I told him, ‘I hope you hit a homerun,’” said A.J. “Then he said, ‘I will.’”
With A.J.’s bracelet on his right wrist, Howard stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning. That’s when it happened.
“I heard the bang of the crack of the bat,” said A.J.
Howard blasted the ball deep to right field, putting the Phillies up 1 and honoring the young boy’s wish.
“Ryan rips one deep to right field!” shouted the announcer. “There you go A.J.!”
After rounding the bases, Howard pointed towards A.J.
“It means the bracelet helped,” said A.J.
“I told him I would put it on and see if it brings me some luck tonight,” said Howard during his postgame interview. “And it did.”
Those who know A.J. call the young boy, who is heading to the National Braille Challenge in California, an inspiration.
“A.J. will never see,” said his mother, Kim Moncman, while fighting back tears. “He was born totally blind. But he is a good person. He never wakes up in the morning in a bad mood. He’s got a really good heart. He sees the world, perfect.”
A.J.’s family is holding their 4th annual golf tournament on June 1 that will benefit research committed to finding cures for retinal degenerative diseases. Click here to see how you can donate.