Foresters make annual hospital visit in Kansas

WICHITA — The Santa Barbara Foresters took a break from the action at Lawrence Dumont Stadium and visited children at Via Christi Hospital here in Wichita on Friday afternoon. The visit is made annually by the team, which also visited pediatric patients at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital during the regular season.

Fortunately, the amount of children in the hospital at Via Christi was low, and the players got to shower the few patients there with stuffed animals, signed baseballs and t-shirts.

“It’s a humbling experience when you walk in there… Just to see these kids there, and all they want is to go home while we’re out there competing for a championship. It makes you appreciate the opportunities that you have,” said lefty ace Sam Stafford.

From left, Forester players Michael Ratterree, Nolan Rudman, Matthew Reckling and Nick Melino visit a young patient and her new teddy bears.

All the efforts stem from the Foresters’ Hugs for Cubs Foundation, which was started by the late Eric Pintard, son of Foresters manager Bill Pintard. Eric, a former Foresters pitcher, started the foundation before passing away from cancer.

Stafford, recently named the top professional pitching prospect from the California Collegiate League, feels that the Hugs for Cubs program directly relates to the team’s success on the field.

“That’s who the Foresters are. That’s our identity… The Hugs for Cubs came from the Foresters, and I think it’s why year-in and year-out such talented teams play here. They want to play for Coach Pintard because of what he’s about.”

Santa Barbara’s next game in the National Baseball Congress World Series is against the Liberal (KS) Bee Jays at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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