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One Royals star promised a young fan a homer. Why section 230 went crazy when he hit it

Kansas City Star - 8/25/2018

Aug. 25--Salvador Perez stopped his pregame workout at Royals manager Ned Yost's request. There was someone there to see him.

It was two hours before the Royals' game against Cleveland on Friday, and when Perez made his way up the clubhouse steps, he quickly saw an old friend.

Colin Couch, a 21-year-old from Olathe who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was waiting for him. The two embraced before Perez offered a promise.

"Homer! Homer! Tonight for you," the Royals catcher said. "I got you."

He had reasons for wanting to make a vow to his friend.

Perez, for instance, noticed the band on Colin's wrist right away. After a home game two weeks ago, Perez pulled his car over in the team parking lot when he'd seen Colin, and after opening the door, he took off one of his "El NiƱo team" bracelets and handed it over.

"You always wear that. We're family. You're part of the team," Perez told him.

Colin's father, Dave, says Colin's worn it every day since.

"He won't go anywhere without it," Dave said. "He and Salvy have this agreement that he's never going to not wear that bracelet."

Perez noticed the white No. 13 jersey too. It had a faded signature on the back from last season, when Perez had seen Colin and talked to him after the season finale.

It's the only shirt that Colin ever wears to games.

"Salvy's his guy," Dave said. "He's got a lot of guys on this team, but Salvy's his guy."

It made what happened next even more amazing.

The Couch family was in section 230 -- the row in front of Perez's family -- when the catcher swung at a 3-2 fastball in the bottom of the first.

On contact, the family knew. Colin started to stand -- something he's not able to do by himself without Dave's help. His father quickly lifted him out of seat 3 so he could continue watching the ball's trajectory.

Perez had hit a 454-foot home run to right -- and also delivered on his word.

"This is Babe Ruth type stuff," Dave said.

Colin's family members looked at each other in disbelief. Perez, after rounding the bases, looked up to the section and noticed the Couches were just one row away from his own loved ones.

"It was exciting," Perez said.

And also a bit unbelievable, at least to the Couches.

"It took me a minute to register," Dave said. "It was like, 'He actually hit that.'"

It was just part of a special night for Colin.

He attended the game, in part, as an early celebration for his 22nd birthday, which is Monday. The family received a field pass from Royals' left-hander Danny Duffy.

"This has got to be one of the better days he's ever had in his life," Dave said. "It's simple stuff like that, but it's so meaningful to him. Just how much he cares about Salvy, and how much Salvy cares about him."

Dave said other Royals -- even ones they hadn't met -- took time to visit with the family on Friday. Those gestures don't go unnoticed by Colin, who never goes to bed until the Royals have stopped playing each night.

"It's one of those things where it gives you hope for humanity, that so many people get it," Dave said. "We hear so many things in sports anymore that are wrong or whatever the case may be.

"But you hear about something that's great, that's a story that absolutely has to be told."

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(c)2018 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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