A's offer opener first pitch to fan with COVID-19

March 19th, 2020

OAKLAND -- Longtime A’s fan Justin Wilhite tested positive for the COVID-19 virus earlier this month. He decided to chronicle the battle he’s gone through over the past week with a series of tweets on Monday. The thread caught the attention of many around the world, A’s president Dave Kaval included.

“He’s got his A’s hat and beanie in all the videos and pictures,” Kaval said Wednesday afternoon on A’s Cast, the club’s 24/7 audio streaming station on TuneIn. “When I saw him, the first thing I thought was, ‘We have to do something for this guy.’”

That something was an offer to throw out the first pitch at the Oakland Coliseum as soon as the A’s and the rest of Major League Baseball can return to action. Kaval made the offer public through social media, and to make it clear he was serious, he doubled down on it Wednesday.

“Oh, we’re doing it,” Kaval said. “I’ve traded a bunch of texts with him and his brother. I think it’s going to be tremendous to have him out there.

“Throwing the first pitch for the season that has obviously been so affected by this virus, I think will just be a tremendous way to heal as a community and celebrate the fight that he’s fighting and [is] hopefully almost through. We’re really looking forward to that moment.”

Wilhite, who is a 39-year-old with Type 1 diabetes, has experienced extreme high and low sugar levels as well as other symptoms that began on March 4, as he’s detailed on social media. He continues to be in good spirits throughout his self-quarantine at his Sacramento home, and he remains positive about conquering the tough battle he currently finds himself in.

“He’s doing a lot better,” Kaval said of Wilhite. “He’s had a tough 10-day period with ups and downs and [he’s] chronicled all that on Twitter, which I think is great for people to see and understand what the symptoms are, know when to get tested, and also know there is a way through this virus.”