Make-A-Wish San Diego makes Levi Smith a Padre for a day


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Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

Levi Smith had just signed a one-day day contract (to be paid in sunflower seeds and bubblegum) when he exited Padres manager Andy Green’s office Wednesday afternoon. The game’s starting third baseman and leadoff hitter, Wil Myers, made sure to say hello as his newest teammate made his way to the No. 42 Padres jersey hanging between Freddy Galvis and Christian Villaneuva’s lockers.

The introduction was not necessary.

“I watch you every day and night,” the 5-year-old San Diegan beamed.

Myers laughed with approval: “That’s what I’m talking about.”

It’s no joke.

Born with a congenital heart condition that required a pacemaker shortly after he was born, Levi watches Padres games nightly, records the games to re-watch the next morning and knows a great deal of his new teammates’ jersey numbers, stats and tendencies.

No. 30? Eric Hosmer, Levi told Green as the two made their way to the indoor batting cage to greet the Padres’ first baseman.

His lockermate, Galvis, “does good plays on double plays.”

His favorite player? Hunter Renfroe, who moments earlier had gifted Levi a players weekend bat as part of a visit made possible by Make-A-Wish San Diego.

“This is what it’s all about – giving back to the community and giving back to kids,” Renfroe said. “You can remember when you were that age, and obviously this is a different situation, but you remember when you were a kid and looked up to guys. It’s incredibly humbling to be part of this experience and part of making this day special for him.”

Before Wednesday’s game, Levi dressed at his locker before joining Green in his pre-game meeting with reporters. Afterward, with regular batting practice called off, Levi ran through several drills on the field, from hitting off a tee, to fielding grounders off the bat of Craig Stammen, to running the bases alongside Austin Hedges (“right foot!” several Padres called out to Levi as he pivoted to second base, relaying Skip Schumaker’s preferred foot as Levi rounded first).

Just off the field, Levi’s mother watched, Hannah, watched with her husband, Matthew, as their son played ball with the team he watches every night before bed. She, too, has a congenital heart condition that requires a pacemaker. Her son’s was inserted 10 days after he was born due to a second-degree heart block, allowing him to live mostly a normal life.

Wednesday’s visit to Petco Park — which included delivering the game ball to the mound and taking grounders from Hosmer just before first pitch — was anything but normal.

“It’s fantastic,” Hannah said, “to watch him do what he wants to do with all his heart.”