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Cutch, Bucs make one fan's wish come true

PITTSBURGH -- Center field at PNC Park is normally patrolled by Andrew McCutchen, but on Wednesday afternoon that ground was covered by a helicopter carrying an important -- and eager -- Pirates fan.

Cameron Pittman, a 12-year-old from Altoona, Pa., who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma, had a wish: Meet McCutchen, tour the Pirates' home field and be a bat boy for the club.

When the helicopter door slid open, McCutchen, Cameron's favorite player, was standing there, waiting for him to start a memorable day.

At the outset, Cameron wasn't sure what Wednesday -- organized by Pirates Charities and the Make-A-Wish Foundation -- would entail. His father didn't know, either.

"They kept us in the blind. All they told us was to be at our hotel at 10 o'clock and the limo was coming to pick us up," Josh Pittman said with a laugh. "We're kind of going with the flow."

Cameron, joined by his family, took a helicopter tour of Pittsburgh, flying over the Three Rivers and Heinz Field, among other sites, before settling in the outfield grass at PNC.

After the group had lunch, McCutchen showed Cameron to a locker adjacent to his own. McCutchen took Cameron around the clubhouse to meet the players, chat and have a bat autographed.

But Cameron wasn't just on the receiving end of gifts. Minutes after landing, he gave the 2013 National League MVP a customized shirt with "McCutchen" on the back and "Greenwood Meadows" -- Cameron's youth team -- on the front.

"He's officially now a member of the Meadows," Josh said.

Also on Cameron's agenda was being recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to the game, delivering the lineup card to the umpires and serving as the Pirates' bat boy for a bit before he and his family watch the game against the Cubs from a luxury suite.

Make-A-Wish coordinator Dana Antkowiak thanked the Pirates for a continued positive relationship in making these sort of events happen.

"Our kids are dealing with so much," Antkowiak said. "[Make-A-Wish] is all about giving them a break -- letting them be a kid again, taking them out of their daily situation, and giving them something to look forward to and memories to last a lifetime."

Manager Clint Hurdle is happy to see McCutchen and the Pirates using their platform to make a lasting impact.

"Any time we can help make a day bigger, brighter, better for a family that's doing the best they can to meet some significant challenges, it's good," Hurdle said. "It's real good."

John McGonigal is an associate reporter for
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen