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Leon celebrates father: 'He's my hero'

@jessicacamerato
June 16, 2019

BOSTON -- Seven years later, Sandy Leon still remembers the advice his father gave him after he made his Major League debut. “‘You’re not done. You’ve got to keep working. If you want to be up here a long time, you’ve got to keep working and getting better,’” Leon recounted.

BOSTON -- Seven years later, Sandy Leon still remembers the advice his father gave him after he made his Major League debut.

“‘You’re not done. You’ve got to keep working. If you want to be up here a long time, you’ve got to keep working and getting better,’” Leon recounted.

Sandy Leon Sr. knows about hard work. He was a talented baseball player in Venezuela and put the game to the side to support his family when Leon’s mother became pregnant. Leon Sr. drove a cab and taught kids how to play ball, among other jobs, to provide.

“They know him a lot in Venezuela. I have the same name, so they know me more because of him first,” Leon said. “All the work he did to help my mom, to help me and my sister, it means a lot to me.”

Leon Sr., who still plays in adult baseball and softball leagues, remains very involved in the sport. Each winter he travels to Florida to help Leon Jr. prepare for the upcoming season. Just like he did when Leon Jr. was developing toward the pros, Leon Sr. throws batting practice and helps his son train.

“My dad means everything … especially because we practiced every day when I was a little kid,” Leon said. “He’s my hero. I followed his steps the whole time.”

During Father’s Day games, for the fourth consecutive year, players wore specially-designed New Era caps to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer. Players also had the option to wear Stance multi-pattern blue-dyed socks. MLB will again donate 100% of its royalties from the sales of specialty caps and apparel emblazoned with the symbolic blue ribbon – a minimum $300,000 collective donation – to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer.

This effort also includes the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation “Home Run Challenge,” which has given fans the chance to make a one-time monetary donation or pledge for every home run hit by their favorite MLB clubs during the time period of Saturday, June 1st through Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16th, all the while tracking where their team stacks up in a “Team vs. Team” competition. Every dollar donated through the Home Run Challenge goes to PCF to fund critical research to defeat prostate cancer. As of June 13th, more than $1.26 million has been pledged via the Home Run Challenge in 2019. Since inception, the Home Run Challenge has raised more than $51 million for PCF, the world’s leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research.

Founded in 1993, Prostate Cancer Foundation has funded nearly $800 million of cutting-edge research by 2,200 scientists at 220 leading cancer centers in 22 countries around the world. Because of PCF’s commitment to ending death and suffering from prostate cancer, the death rate is down more than 52% and 1.5 million men are alive today as a result. PCF research now impacts 67 forms of human cancer by focusing on immunotherapy, the microbiome, and food as medicine. Learn more at pcf.org.

Jessica Camerato is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato.