A's help replace 9-year-old fan's memorabilia

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In a touching moment on Friday, the Athletics helped replace memorabilia for a 9-year-old fan whose house was destroyed by Northern California wildfires.

Loren Smith, an avid A’s fan, sent a letter to the club about how much he loved to watch Oakland games and how sad he was to lose his collection of baseball cards, jerseys and baseballs in the fire.

Athletics president Dave Kaval saw the letter, published by ABC7 News, and helped organize a memorabilia drive to benefit Smith. The team hosted Smith along with his mother, father and 9-month-old brother Friday in Santa Clara.

Smith met Kaval and manager Bob Melvin and got to play catch with catcher Bruce Maxwell. The A’s surprised Smith with an opportunity to throw a ceremonial first pitch at a game next year along with three season tickets.

Donations poured in from the Oakland area and beyond, as the team replaced his lost autographed baseballs signed by Melvin and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and gifted a cadre of other items including bobbleheads, jerseys and an estimated 10,000 baseball cards.

“When we heard that Loren lost all of his A’s memorabilia from throughout the years, we knew we had to do something,” Kaval said. “We are overwhelmed by the generosity we received from players, others teams in the league, and baseball fans from the entire country who so quickly rallied to bring some joy to this wonderful young fan.”

Athletics players chipped in on top of what the team provided, and other Major League teams, including the Cubs, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox and Tigers, also gifted equipment and other items.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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