Padres Continue to Sign Ex-Pitcher Now in Wheelchair - NBC Southern California

Padres Continue to Sign Ex-Pitcher Now in Wheelchair

Matt LaChappa has been re-signed to the Padres since 1996 so he has health insurance

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Padres Keep Sick Pitcher on Payroll 20 Years After Last Throw

    Amid all the negative sports stories out there, here’s one locally that will make your heart swell.

    Our San Diego Padres really have heart.

    Matt LaChappa hasn’t pitched in 19 years. But that hasn’t stopped the Padres from renewing his contract year after year. Once a Padres prospect, the pitcher suffered a heart attack in a Class A game in 1996 and is now confined to a wheelchair.

    Yet his minor league contract continues to be renewed, including this year, according to published reports, so that LaChappa, who’s from the Barona Indian Reservation, can continue to have health insurance.

    USA Today spoke with LaChappa’s brother, Eagle LaChappa, on Tuesday and he described his brother’s relationship with the Padres as “special.”

    “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,” Eagle told USA Today.

    LaChappa himself has given back to the community, hosting golf tournaments over the years to help East County kids attend college.

    We’ve reached out to the Padres and will update this story when we hear back.