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Twins name teen with heart condition honorary manager in ‘Little Big League’ tribute (vid)

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The Minnesota Twins wanted to something special to commemorate the 20th anniversary this month of the film, “Little Big League.”

To do so, the team went above and beyond simply doing something hokey and instead utilized the anniversary of the movie to lift the spirits of an ill 14-year-old baseball fan.

“Little Big League” of course chronicles the fictional tale of Billy Heywood, a 11-year-old boy who inherits the Twins organization upon his grandfather’s death. Through a series of wacky events, Heywood fires the surly manager portrayed by Dennis Farina and inserts himself in the role of skipper.

Things happen, lessons are learned and without spoiling it too much for folks who haven’t seen a 20-year-old film, a reasonably happy ending concludes the ludicrous but heartwarming tale.

Which brings us to last Sunday. The Twins, along with the coordinated effort of the Ronald McDonald House, paid tribute to the film by naming Ryan Lueschen, a 14-year-old Twins fan from nearby Lakeville, Minn., the team’s honorary manager for Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Lueschen was born with modified hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a very rare heart condition. He had four heart surgeries by the age of six and his most recent surgery included having a pacemaker implanted.

During Ryan’s most recent surgery, his parents relied upon the support of the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis as their son was hospitalized.

On Sunday, the Twins put Ryan through the paces of what it’s like to be a big league manager. He took in batting practice, chatted with Ron Gardenhire, fraternized with players in the clubhouse and even took questions from the media.

He even had the opportunity for a photo-op with Joe Mauer and “Little Big League” star Luke Edwards, who was in town for the occasion.

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And almost the whole time, the tough little kid bore a smile that showed just how much fun he was having during his special — and well-deserved — day.

Better yet? The Twinkies were able to notch a victory in first — and last — managerial appearance, beating the ChiSox 4-3.

[H/T Big League Stew]

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