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Column

Rizzo a big bit with Princeton’s Shofner

Anthony Rizzo signs an autograph for Cubs fan Nolan Shofner of Princeton this week outside the player's entrance at Wrigley Field.
Anthony Rizzo signs an autograph for Cubs fan Nolan Shofner of Princeton this week outside the player's entrance at Wrigley Field.

Anthony Rizzo is a stand-up guy, as I’ve written before, his affection for kids shown by the millions of dollars he has donated to children’s hospitals.

This week he found another kid. As he was heading into Wrigley Field for a night game, the Cubs first baseman spied Nolan Shofner, a sophomore at Princeton High School, who was accompanied by his brother, Blake, and buddies, outside the players’ entrance.

Rizzo came over to the wheel-bound Shofner, who is afflicted with Spinal Muscular Distrophy (SMA), which leaves him nearly completely disable with very little movement, said a quick hello and signed his Cubs jersey. Every one in the group was speechless with their brush with fame.

It was a brief, but sweet encounter for the cast of young Cubs fans.

"He came without hesitation when I called his name. He even kind of pushed the security guy out of the way," Blake Shofner said.

“It was awesome,” said Christian Parry who taped the encounter that you can view on his Twitter account at 2BigPoppy730. “Blake called him over and he instantly came over. He only signed something for Nolan and it was just cool that he went out of his way for my bro. He didn’t say much, but he was also going into the building.”

You can hear several in their group, saying things like, “that is so cool.”

The group returned to the same spot after the game and met the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist, who Parry said “talked to us for a good five minutes.”

I just love hearing stories about ballplayers taking time out for kids. I think too many of them forget they were that kid one time that tried to talk to the players and get autographs.

Good job Rizzo and Zobrist.

• Happ-y days: Speaking of good-guy ballplayers, our J.A. Happ is sure taking a liking to his new pinstripes.

The 35-year-old left-hander out of St. Bede Academy has won his first three games with the Yankees, the latest coming Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, where he earned a 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay with a one-hitter over seven innings. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone said Happ put on a clinic.

After developing a bout of hand, foot and mouth disease, believed to have occurred on his flight from Toronto to NYC after his July 26 trade, Happ has proven to be the ace the Bronx Bombers sought at the trade deadline.

He now stands 13-6 on the season.

Here’s a report on Happ’s latest outing: https://www.mlb.com/news/ja-happ-throws-7-scoreless-1-hit-innings/c-290314772

Murray to IVCC: As I first reported via Twitter, former PHS standout Anna Murray, the 2018 BCR Athlete of the Year, had a change of heart and is now playing volleyball for IVCC this fall, decommiting from playing basketball at Elmhurst College.

While some may be surprised knowing her high skill level in basketball, Anna has always told me volleyball was her sport of choice.

"I just didn't want my volleyball career to end with high school. It is my favorite sport, so I figured why not play it while I still can," she said.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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