Thanks in part to a couple of former Red Sox players, Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo weren't the only heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings throwing ceremonial first pitches from major-league mounds on Tuesday night.
About a month after Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss visited Aaron Hern in his room at Boston's Children's Hospital, their new team, the Oakland Athletics, welcomed the 12-year-old to open the festivities before the A's took on the rival Giants at O.co Coliseum. It had been just 43 days since Hern was standing near the finish line to watch his mother in her first Boston race when an explosion sent bits of shrapnel into his legs, leaving a particularly deep wound in his left thigh and necessitating a sequence of surgeries -- but when his parents forgot his crutches Tuesday night, he walked strongly to the mound and tossed the baseball to his new friend, Moss.
"The hospital visit by the A's was a special thing," Alan Hern, Aaron's father, told the Silicon Valley Mercury News. "It was a very cool thing for them to do. Aaron really hit it off with Moss. They talked about how it would be nice to meet under different circumstances."
The April 22 visit was arranged by Oakland first base coach Tye Waller, who accompanied the players to the hospital after learning that the sixth-grade student from Martinez, Calif., was among those injured. Moss and Reddick didn't hesitate, both having visited the hospital before during their days with the Sox, and understanding the way meeting a big-leaguer can brighten a kid's day.
Among his other visitors while at Children's was First Lady Michelle Obama, and once he returned home to the Oakland area, the Golden State Warriors gave Hern, his family, and his 10-year-old sister courtside seats for their playoff clincher against the Nuggets. Then came Tuesday's honor at the Coliseum.
And now he continues the process of just getting to be a 12-year-old again.
"He's back in school. He was at a pool party the other day with his friends from junior high. He's got an iPod Touch, too, so he's texting like all his friends," Alan Hern told the Mercury News.
"But he still has bad days. And it's hard to predict when they might come or what might set them off. It might be a song he hears or an image. Sometimes it's nothing at all."
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