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6-year-old Jake Raffin returns Jason Giambi home run ball, earns membership in Indians’ ‘Goon Squad’

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Jason Giambi electrified Progressive Field on Tuesday night when he delivered a two-out, two-run walkoff home run off Chicago White Sox closer Addison Reed. He also made the night of the lucky fan, six-year-old Jake Raffin from nearby Rocky River, who escaped the mini-scramble with a souvenir and then elected to bring the baseball back to Giambi after Cleveland's celebration concluded.

Before going any further, it's important to note a couple things about this baseball itself. It wasn't your typical walkoff home run by any stretch. Giambi actually broke his own record, which previously belonged to Hank Aaron, of being the oldest player in MLB history to hit a walkoff home run.

Considering that historical significance alone, the baseball had some value. Throw in how important it could prove to be for Cleveland in the standings — they still hold a one game lead for the second wild card position — and the value goes up even more.

But young Jake Raffin could not have cared less about a sum of money or a few moments of attention. Once it was known that Giambi was interested in retrieving the baseball, the only thing he wanted to do was deliver the baseball back to the man who delivered it in the stands. With the assistance of his father, Dominic Raffin, and home clubhouse manager Tony Amato, that's exactly what Jake did. In return, an appreciative Giambi initially signed a bat for Raffin, but on Wednesday he had an even bigger surprise for the young fan.

Jake and his family were once again invited to visit Giambi at Progressive Field prior to their second game against the White Sox. This time, Giambi greeted Raffin with a pair of signed batting gloves, but more importantly than that, he also had an Indians 'Goon Squad' t-shirt — which represents the nickname given to the Indians bench by Mike Aviles — and made Raffin an honorary member on the spot.

Giambi then wrapped up the meeting with a simple message.

"Thank you so much for returning the ball, it really means a lot."

But that probably didn't sink it anyway. Raffin was too busy getting comfortable in his new shirt and likely thinking about what he was going to tell his friends at school the next day. That will be a great story, but it will be even better when he tells his own children, and then their children. That's the type of lifelong memory Jason Giambi created with one simple gesture. He turned a great moment on the field, which will live on in Indians history forever, and made it a personal memory that will live in the Raffin family for generations to come.

It simply does not get any better than that.

Big BLS H/N: Tribe Vibe

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