Matthew LaChappa wasn’t just born with a gift, he was born with a passion. All he wanted to do was play professional ball. In 1993 his dream would come true. He would be drafted by the now San Diego Padres and assigned to minor league ball. His dream had come true. That alone would make this story a great one, but not amazing, and definitely not insurance related.
“What happened just devastated so many people,” (Former Padres director of minor league operations Priscilla Oppenheimer) says. “Matt was looked up to by everyone in the community. When he signed, about half the tribe came in for the ceremony.”
In 1996, while warming up in the bullpen before what would have been his first game of the year coming in as a relief pitcher, LaChappa collapsed. He had suffered a heart attack. The Quakes trainer performed CPR on LaChappa for 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived to take him to a local hospital. His tribulation was not over yet.
While at the hospital, LaChappa would suffer a second heart attack.
Thankfully, after all the turmoil, LaChappa was able to pull through, and survive, however not without cost. He suffered permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen and is mostly confined to a wheelchair.
You might think that’s the end of this story. So you may think that was the end of Matthew’s life. Or his tenure as a San Diego Padre. But you’d be wrong.
Without stepping onto the diamond for another pitch, LaChappa has remained on the roster for The Padres minor league baseball time for the last 20 + years and counting. The organization decided to continue his contract, so he would be able to continue his health insurance, something that the entire LaChappa family appreciates.
Nowadays, everybody talks about the statistics in baseball, and how it has all become a numbers game,” Eagle LaChappa said by phone. “But the Padres have been pretty special to him. They’ve said he’ll be a Padre for the rest of his life, and they’ve allowed him to keep a certain level of care.”
Throughout it all, Eagle and Matt have always remained positive. “He’s a great kid. He is confined to a wheelchair, has trouble communicating and is barely able to hold a spoon. But his mind is still as sharp as ever. He has an incredible sense of humor and is just a joy to be around.” Eagle LaChappa said that Matt watches the Padres regularly, and that “he loves when they win and hates when they lose.” The family has a relationship with equipment manager Tony Petricca, who helps arrange their visits to Petco Park. Especially during this time of the year, it’s always nice to hear inspiring stories of kindness, and in this case, health insurance has allowed Matthew to continue his passion and love for life, and baseball