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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

9-year-old boy who caught McCutchen’s 300th HR reveals significant milestones of his own

9-year-old+boy+who+caught+McCutchen%E2%80%99s+300th+HR+reveals+significant+milestones+of+his+own
Courtesy of Vinay Mehta

Only an elite bunch of MLB players can boast hitting 300 home runs in their career. Last Sunday, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Andrew McCutchen joined the elite list after a blast into left field in a 9-2 road win over the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Sitting in the direct line of the shot by the center fielder was 9-year-old Pirates fan Toren Mehta with his father Vinay. Vinay, born and raised in Pittsburgh, passed down his Bucs fandom to his son. The two celebrated immensely after catching the home run ball and even got the chance to hand it to McCutchen himself after the game. 

While outsiders will see a cool moment between a fan and a player, there is more to this story than meets the eye. For many, this would serve as a sweet memory to remember for years to come. While this holds true, for Toren and Vinay, this moment is a lot deeper. 

In October 2022, the lives of Toren and Vinay Mehta were majorly altered when Toren was diagnosed with acute leukemia. 

Prior to the discovery of his cancer, Toren was an avid athlete and played all major contact sports, including baseball. Due to his medical conditions, Toren is no longer able to take the field and has since fulfilled his passion for sports by watching them.

When Toren caught wind of the Pirates heading to Citizens Bank Park, he begged his father to take him. As a Pittsburgh sports fan living in Philadelphia, this was Toren’s first sporting event featuring a team in black and yellow. 

Vinay shared the irony of how he and Toren were not supposed to go to the game on Sunday and had originally planned to attend Saturday night, but the weather forced Vinay to call an audible. 

“The chain of events that had to occur for that ball to end up in his hands,” Vinay Mehta said. “Almost think of it as a miracle or divine intervention.”

The similarities between Toren and McCutchen are striking, and only fate could have brought their stories together. McCutchen, a 15-year MLB veteran, has had quite the journey en route to this historic milestone. Toren, despite his young age, has had an extensive journey of his own, hitting personal and medical milestones on the way.

“With his cancer and his treatments, there are set milestones,” Vinay Mehta said. “There’s different phases of treatment, and when we get to the end of the phase, it’s a celebration because we know we are one step closer to being done with this.”

Toren, who is set to finish treatment in February of next year, stays optimistic and looks towards the future.

“I always have a goal,” Toren said. “Every time I go to the doctor, I try to think about how I have one less doctor’s visit until I’m done. I feel like it’s just good to have a goal in mind, always.”

Vinay agreed to the unbelievable destiny of Toren catching the ball and gave a testimony to how much this moment meant for the father and son. 

“There’s a connection there. Everything that Toren has gone through with his journey and all of that leading to that ball ending up in his hands just seems like to me a mini miracle,” Vinay Mehta said. “It’s crazy to think of the past year and a half, and it culminating into that miracle … He got to be the kid that delivered it to McCutchen, and the way that McCutchen treated us with such class and integrity.”

Vinay mentioned how he held back on mentioning Toren’s cancer. He shared that he wanted to savor the moment for his favorite player, and relayed how special it was for Toren to meet McCutchen. 

“One of the guys asked, ‘Toren, do you play baseball?’” Vinay Mehta said. “I thought about my response to that, because he used to play baseball, but he can’t now because of the cancer, and I was thinking, ‘You know, maybe I should mention it.”

But the father decided against mentioning the cancer, instead letting his son and McCutchen enjoy the special moment.

“I decided not to because I just felt like I wanted to keep the moment about [McCutchen],” Vinay Mehta said. “Seeing the kind of person [McCutchen] is and the other guys — how classy they are. I feel like it would have made the moment that much more special for those guys if they had known that the kid that delivered them the ball was a kid who was battling through his own significant journey right now. I regret not having said that. It would make [McCutchen] realize how much of an impact he really had [on Toren].”

About the Contributor
Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer
Aidan Kasner is a first-year student studying Media and Professional Communications.