CLEVELAND -- Here's some breaking news: World Series tickets -- especially tickets to this particular World Series, which involves the two teams with the longest active championship droughts in baseball -- are valuable. Even the briefest perusal of the secondary market would confirm as much, but the players and personnel
CLEVELAND -- Here's some breaking news: World Series tickets -- especially tickets to this particular World Series, which involves the two teams with the longest active championship droughts in baseball -- are valuable. Even the briefest perusal of the secondary market would confirm as much, but the players and personnel associated with the Indians and Cubs also have that value confirmed by the sheer number of people who have come out of the woodwork (long-lost cousins, otherwise unknown neighbors, etc.) to request some assistance.
So what Corey Kluber, the Tribe's Game 1 starter tonight, is doing with his ducats for the games at Progressive Field is admirable. And what he's doing is what he's done all year -- making sure some kids who have gotten a tough break can have a reason to smile.
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Throughout the 2016 season, Kluber and his wife, Amanda, have been entertaining children who are patients at local hospitals and their families with special experiences at the ballpark. Before each Wednesday home game, groups of up to 10 people have been treated to a spot on the field during batting practice and, if the schedule lines up, Kluber's bullpen sessions. They got to interact with Kluber and his teammates in the dugout, got to take in the game free of charge from some primo seats and even had their images broadcast on the giant videoboard above the left-field bleachers.
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The program, run in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Children's, is called Kluber's Kids.
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"I think probably everybody has at some point in time, whether they knew directly or witnessed it, somebody who's got a child who is sick, and it's heartbreaking," Kluber said. "It's something that, being a father, you can't imagine what they're going through. So it's really just about wanting to try to help them have a happy moment, take their mind off what they're going through for a little bit."
Kluber said his interactions with the kids have all followed a similar formula. At first, they're nervous, shy, soft-spoken (much like Kluber himself). And then, all it takes is one mention of a favorite hobby or interest.
"You talk about that with them for one minute," Kluber said with a smile, "and all of a sudden the guard goes down and they turn into kids again."
The interactions have surely affected the kids, but they've also had an effect on Corey and Amanda. They've relished the opportunity to have an impact on this community.
"I think it's something that we view as something we do together," Kluber said. "It's not my thing; it's something we do together and we both enjoy doing it. It makes you feel just as good as they feel."
So when the Indians reached the postseason, the two got to talking, and they decided that they'd treat the World Series just like any ordinary regular-season game. What better way to leave a lasting memory with some kids who could use the boost?
When Kluber's on the mound in Game 1, a young girl named Ali, who is a patient at University Hospital Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, will be in the stands with a family member. The Dolan ownership family gave each Indians player two World Series tickets to do whatever they want with, and this is what Corey and Amanda chose with their pair.
"It wasn't really something there was much discussion about," Kluber said. "We had an opportunity to do it, and we felt we had made some good relationships and met some good people through the course of the year. We thought it would be a good thing to give them a chance to come out and watch us."
This Indians club has been special not just for its impact on the field but in the community. Last month, the club passed the hat in the clubhouse and kick-started a $1 million donation to inner-city youths through the newly created Larry Doby Fund. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor has his Smile Squad and makes visits to Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities programs both locally and on the road. This has been a group that goes above and beyond.
"We care about each other in the clubhouse, but we also have guys who genuinely care about other people," Kluber said. "They're not selfish, not just in it for themselves. They genuinely enjoy bringing joy to other people."
And though the ever-stoic Kluber won't show it himself, just know that he's responsible for some big smiles in the ballpark tonight.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.