MINNEAPOLIS - A Joe Mauer jersey was spotted on the pitcher's mound before Wednesday afternoon's Twins game at Target Field. However, it was not the future hall of famer warming up. It was a kindergartner from Saint Joseph, Minnesota.
Six-year-old Andre Robinson had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on "Go to Bat for Brain Injury Day" at the ballpark. Andre suffered a brain injury when as an infant.
"When he was 19 days old, his dad fell down the steps and dropped him and Andre sustained a brain injury, pretty severe actually," said Kim Notsch, Andre's mother.
The injury was so severe that doctors at the Hennepin County Medical Center did not expect the infant to live through the night.
Thus, began a new life of defying medical expectations for the boy. "He has had nine surgeries. We have been in the hospital 16 times," said his mother.
Fifty friends and family journeyed to the ballpark to watch Andre's major league "debut." The boy met his hero, Twin's catcher and batting champion Joe Mauer, on Tuesday and Andre told Mauer that he could strike him out.
The real strike zone on Wednesday was awareness of Brain Injuries by the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance. The non-profit agency was delighted by their participation in the Twins' event.
"It is huge because this is a great way that we can spread awareness about brain injuries to the general public and to all the Twins fans," said Pat Marciniak, Media Relations Director for the Alliance. "Brain Injury awareness is the only key to prevention, seeing a lot of youth athletes and working to help get that prevention message out there, get the 'return to play' protocol in place that we (the alliance) helped work with our State Capitol."
Shortly before noon, Andre delivered his promised curve ball from the pitcher's mound to ceremonial catcher and mascot, T.C. Bear. Then, T.C. hoisted the youngster onto his shoulders. The brain injury survivor wore a smile back to his seat that lit up the section.
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