Baseball means the world to Arizona native Josh. Whether he is checking up on a score, watching games on television or helping out with his dad’s recreational team, the 16-year-old has always been a big fan of America’s pastime.
When Josh was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in August of last year, Make-A-Wish Arizona met with him to talk about his wish.
“Josh has difficulty processing his thoughts because of his condition,” said his mom, Melanie. “Sometimes it is hard for him to communicate, but memories are always big triggers for him.”
One memory that Josh kept recalling was the 2001 World Series, when the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees. His face immediately lit up as he realized his biggest wish - to be the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks!
“Josh likes to imagine he is the coach of teams we watch on television, telling them what to do and calling out plays,” Melanie said. “I couldn’t think of a better wish for him, baseball is absolutely his favorite sport.”
One bonus for Josh’s wish: the day he was to take the field as manager was a “Throwback Thursday”, a special day each month when the Arizona Diamondbacks wear their original purple and teal uniforms and encourage fans to embrace the “old days” as well.
When the big day arrived, the team’s mascot, Baxter, picked up Josh (a Tucson resident) at his hotel in the Baxtermobile and drove him through downtown Phoenix, almost like a parade. Josh received a custom Arizona Diamondbacks jersey and practiced with the players, coaching them in the dugout. He even met Coach Bob Brenly from the 2001 World Series, who gifted Josh with a replica World Series ring!
“He was in awe from sun up to sun down,” said Melanie. “Chemotherapy is very hard on him, but during his wish, he was living in the moment and made it through the entire day without getting tired.”
Josh participated in every aspect of a manager’s responsibilities, from answering questions in the press room with current manager Chip Hale to signing a contract with President and Chief Executive Officer Derrick Hall.
But his all-time favorite part of the day was meeting his childhood hero, Luis Gonzalez.
“Luis took the time not just to talk wish Josh, but to really understand him,” said Melanie, before being corrected by Josh.
“Mom, he’s Gonzo,” says Josh. “It was so cool! I felt like I knew him my whole life!”
Most of all, Melanie appreciates the time her family was able to spend together where Josh could forget about his condition for a day.
“Josh is already a really happy kid but I always find him glowing ear to ear reminiscing about his wish day,” she said. “He still talks about his wish all the time and it brings him so much joy.”
Melanie looks forward to volunteering for Make-A-Wish Arizona in the future, so she can help future wish kids experience their one true wish like Josh.
“I never realized how much of an impact this could have,” she said. “It was a phenomenal day and I can’t thank Make-A-Wish Arizona enough for giving this opportunity to my son.”