Last season was the most successful in Mahoning Valley Scrappers history. Shy of winning the Penn League Championship, the year could have been called nearly perfect, except for one unfortunate incident. In the early innings of the second game of a doubleheader, Luke Holko was struck in the back of the head by a foul ball. Holko made his triumphant return to Eastwood Field on Sunday, as GM Dave Smith announced that Luke would be signed to an honorary one day contract.
“He is still a little wobbly when he walks and they had to put some botox in one his legs for balance purposes, but all-in-all he is doing great“, remarked Chad Holko. “Nicole was driving with him in the car a couple of weeks before Christmas, and he was eating Goldfish Crackers or Cheerios, and he uttered the word ‘more’. It made the holidays much more fun.”
Young Luke seemed a bit overwhelmed at times. In the picture above, Travis Fryman greeted Holko in the dugout during batting practice. Luke was later introduced as he was escorted to the mound by his parents to throw out the first pitch. The crowd was very supportive and provided a standing ovation. Luke then made his pre-game pitch, which was a strike. The paramedics who worked on and transported Luke that night were here and given props.
Fryman commented on the Holko situation. “We have been following it closely for eleven months. My wife and I have their website marked in our favorites and check the status several times a week. We have spoken with Chad and Nicole and have stayed in contact. It’s miraculous how good he looks, he looks like a normal four-year old boy and that is fantastic to see.”
There was a lot of emotion shown as people watched Luke’s every move. For what the family has been through over the past eleven months, Sunday was a celebration of what good humanity and prayer can resolve, even in the bleakest of situations. I also praise the Holko family for never holding a grudge against the Scrappers for what happened. It is an amazing story and Chad Holko said it best, “It’s amazing how something like this makes you realize what is really important in life”.
It should also be noted that the visiting team, the Aberdeen Iron Birds, participated in the pre-game festivities and presented Luke with an autographed ball.