Indians fan has personal encounter with players

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – If a smile is worth a thousand words, then what happened Saturday in Cleveland is easily worth a million.

“It was just great.”

Axel Rivera, 27, may be the biggest Cleveland Indians fan, at least in Youngstown. On Sunday, he talked about his trip to Progressive Field on Saturday.

“They were just so welcoming and so wonderful,” Rivera said.

Rivera was smiling not because of the Indians winning season or a victory over an arch-rival. It was because he got the chance to meet several of the players on the team and take home some very special souvenirs.

“They gave me a bat, a couple balls, gloves, and they took pictures with me. It was just awesome,” Rivera said.

He was born with cerebral palsy and has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life. But, his true love for sports, especially the Indians, is obvious.

“He was so happy for that. I will never forget that day to make that wish for my son,” Ida Rivera said.

Saturday’s adventure in Cleveland has come full circle. Fourteen years ago, Rivera had a similar opportunity.

On Saturday, he talked to several players and coaches about the game he loves, including First Base Coach Sandy Alomar.

“I enjoyed talking to him and just spending time with him. He is a genuine, sweet guy,” Rivera said.

But Rivera has not always been the Indians number one fan. He was a die hard New York Yankees fan until his godfather, Rey Esparra, converted him.

Rivera shows his love for sports is worth a million words, not only to his family, but also the Indians players he met Saturday and the ones he met 14 years ago.

“I can tell you as his godfather, when you meet this young man, you are in the presence of an angel,” Esparra said.

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