Matt Kemp became an Internet sensation after an impromptu gesture he made toward a cancer-stricken Dodgers fan attending a game at AT&T Park.
The Dodgers’ Gold Glove center fielder was informed of the disabled fan’s plight by third base coach Tim Wallach during a 4-3 loss to the Giants on Sunday. After the game, Kemp went to the other side of the field with Wallach and met the fan and his father, who were sitting in the front row adjacent to the third base dugout.
“Wally told me that there was a big Dodger fan at the game and that he didn’t have a long time to live — not longer than a month and a half,” Kemp said during a hastily-arranged press conference in the Dodgers’ dugout before Tuesday night’s game against Arizona.
“So after the game, I just decided to go meet him. He couldn’t talk because I guess his speech was gone. When I said ‘Hi’ to him, he just looked at me in shock. It almost got me.”
The fan, whose name is Josh, appeared to be a teenager and was dressed in a hooded Dodgers sweatshirt. Kemp shook hands with him, autographed a ball and handed him his cap.
“I didn’t know that anybody was filming it. I wasn’t aware,” Kemp said. “I woke up this morning and my phone’s ringing, and I’m saying: ‘What did I do now? What happened now? I hope nothing bad happened.’”
The video, which can be seen on YouTube, also shows Kemp pulling his jersey over his head and handing it to Josh — along with his shoes — while his friend Tommy was recording it on his cellphone.
“I didn’t plan on taking my jersey off. It was just something I felt that probably would have cheered him up a little bit and helped his situation,” Kemp said. “It was the first time I ever took my shoes off on a field. That was the first time that Giants fans were ever nice to me.
“I mean, we’d just gotten swept by the Giants, but that was something I felt I needed to do, and I’m glad I got to do that,” Kemp added. “Hopefully, that made the kid’s day. I don’t even know his name. God willing, a miracle happens and he lives for a while. But his father told Wally that he didn’t have much time left on this Earth.”