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Ozarks Boy with Brain, Spine Tumors Meets His Baseball Hero

(Photo provided to KSMU by Promise Long)
(Photo provided to KSMU by Promise Long)

Only at nine years old, Nick Long has been through a lot.  But for one day, he put all of his worries aside for a special day with Albert Pujols.  KSMU’s Scott Butler has more. 

In April 2010, Nick Long was diagnosed with Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma.  That means he has tumors in his brain and spine.  He then went through weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.  But over Memorial Day weekend, Nick went to the St. Louis Cardinals game, and he thought he was just going to watch the game.  Little did he know that his community had a much bigger surprise waiting for him.  Nick’s former principal, David Kirk, helped arrange the trip.

“He [Nick] got up there and he was met by a young lady and he got to park in the players parking lot, and he thought that was kind of neat, parking there with the players.  The lady took him right out to the field and Nick started getting really excited and Albert Pujols came right up to him and said ‘Are you Nicholas Long?’  And he went ‘Yes, sir.’  ‘Well, I’m Albert Pujols and I have been wanting to meet you,’” said Kirk.

Albert Pujols took Nick on a tour of the stadium and signed a baseball bat, a hat, and two baseballs. 

The West Plains community started a campaign to get Nick to a St. Louis Cardinals game and meet his favorite player.  Kirk had a friend of his who he thought could maybe pull a few strings.

“I have a friend that has season tickets.  Come to find out, his roommate at Mizzou, his family, had Albert Pujols living with them for two years in high school.  He came up to Kansas City and played baseball up there and he [Kirk’s friend] called his roommate and he talked to Albert.  Albert called and two days later, everything was set up,” he said.

Kirk said Pujols gave Nick an autographed ball to go toward Relay for Life, a fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society.

For KSMU News, I’m Scott Butler.