Padres News: The Padres Have Signed Ex-Pitcher For 20 Straight Years

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Every night, right after my wife and I finish brushing our teeth and crawl into bed, we like to snuggle up and look at Reddit on my iPad before we fall asleep. The Reddit front page first, then almost exclusively the “Funny” sub-reddit – sometimes the “Aww” sub-reddit too, she’s a sucker for kittens and corgis.

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After Tuesday’s late night victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, we were ready for just a handful of funny posts before calling it a night because of our early wake-up times. That’s when she pointed out a post on the top of Reddit’s front page that caught her attention, mostly because it had “Padres” in the title. Sure enough it was about the San Diego Padres, and about something the club has been doing for the last twenty years, that I had no idea about.

Steve Bisheff, of the Orange County Register, wrote an article that has been turning some heads recently. A story about former Padres pitching prospect, Matt LaChappa.

In 1996, LaChappa was a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher in the Padres farm system. Selected in the second round of the 1993 Draft out of local El Capitan High School.

LaChappa quickly gained a reputation as the best pitching prospect in the Padres organization with his “sharp-breaking” curve balls and high 90’s velocity.

Everything changed one April evening in Rancho Cucamongo.

While warming up to come in pitch in relief for the Class-A club, his parents in attendance, LaChappa suddenly clutched his chest and fell to the ground. He had suffered a heart attack.

His trainer, Jim Daniels, performed CPR on him for over 20 minutes until paramedics finally arrived. When he reached the hospital, he suffered his second heart attack.

A virus had formed around LaChappa’s heart. A condition that would have been missed by any standard physical, which LaChappa had recently had. One only detectable by advanced hospital machinery.

LaChappa’s prognosis was devastating. His career was over.

Although LaChappa could never pitch again for the Padres that didn’t matter, the ball club would take care of him.

For the last 20 years, the Padres have re-signed LaChappa to a basic minor-league contract. This has provided LaChappa and his family with not only much needed income, but more importantly, allowing him to maintain his insurance, so he can continue to receive the quality care he needs.

It might seem like a small gesture for the Padres, but it’s effects for LaChappa and his family are enormous.

If you have been through a devastating diagnosis yourself, or known anyone who has, you know how important having health insurance is. Having it allows you to cover the outrageous costs of necessary treatments, and saves you and your family from financial bankruptcy and ruin.

It’s an amazing and touching story that I encourage all of you to read.

Major League Baseball (collegiate and professional sports too for that matter) can be a cold and cruel place sometimes. There are hundreds of stories of freak instances that take away the dreams of so many promising young players. As soon as those player’s lives are changed, they are discarded and forgotten.

It’s nice for once to read about a player that was not forgotten. Maybe it’s even a little nicer to see it’s my San Diego Padres taking care of one of their own too.

Regardless, I wish all the best to Matt LaChappa and his family. I am even more proud to call myself a Friars Faithful, Go PADS!!

Special thanks again to Steve Bisheff for sharing this touching story with us all.

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