Ruiz makes time for special Phillies fan
PHILADELPHIA -- Aiden Riebel and his brother Max arrived at Citizens Bank Park before Friday night's Phillies-Mets game wearing matching autographed Carlos Ruiz jerseys.
Moments after stepping onto the field to watch batting practice, Aiden locked eyes with his hero. Without hesitation, Ruiz ran over, hopped the divider, and embraced his biggest fan.
"When he was hugging Carlos, I teared up," Aiden's mother, Christine Stier Ludwig, said. "There are no words that can express it. As a parent, it's just beautiful to see. He's just trying to do something new every day. It's hard for him. He's home-schooled. So him getting out like this is awesome."
Aiden is battling Stage 4 cancer, his second bout with cancer. "Chooch," who was also a hero this weekend when he financed the search teams that rescued his hometown friends who were lost at sea in Panama, is the 6-year-old's inspiration.
"He's my favorite player," Aiden said.
This isn't the first time the two have met up. Back in November, Aiden was surprised by Chooch at the Washington Township Fire Department, where Aiden was also sworn in as an honorary fireman for the night. Ruiz was adamant about following up November's meet-up.
"To me, it mean's a lot," Ruiz said. "I have two kids of my own and try to give back to kids, try to make them feel better. So it means a lot. For me, it was really special. It was emotional."
"He's a special kid," Stier Ludwig said. "With everything that he goes through and all the medicine he has to take all the time. His chemotherapy that he goes through. A week out of every month, he literally gets 14 injections in his thighs. He's just a special kid."
On the way over to Citizens Bank Park, Aiden's family surprised him with the news.
"That's when we broke it to him. And you should have seen his face," Aiden's uncle, Scott Stier, said. "That's when they got really excited. We told them, 'You gotta still be cool. You gotta be mellow.'"
Somehow, Aiden managed to keep his cool, and discussed his T-ball career with Ruiz before the Phillies catcher autographed a bat and ball for him and Max.
"I would rate [the experience] as a 10," Max said. "Maybe 11.99. Or a million."
"It was so much fun," Aiden said.