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Lendosky family meets Jose Bautista
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Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista (left) met Brandee, Steve, Peyton and Lucas Lendosky prior to a game against the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 7. - photo by Contributed photo

Nearly 40 local fans traveled to Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday, Sept. 7, home of the Minnesota Twins.

No, the Twins do not have a Fennimore Fan Club. The Twins’ opponent that day was the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista dedicated the Blue Jays’ Aug. 9 game against the Oakland Athletics to Derek Lendosky, who passed away earlier that week.

Bautista’s dedication came in response to an impressive Twitter campaign launched by Fennimore High School students Kennedy Lee and Jacob Zintz.

Steve and Brandee Lendosky, Derek’s parents, watched from home Aug. 9 as Bautista hit two doubles and crushed his 26th home run in the eighth inning.

“I even shed tears,” Steve told the Times last month. “It was so cool.”

A few more tears were shed on Saturday.

As the Blue Jays took part in batting practice prior to the game, Bautista, who was ruled out for the season last week due to an injured hip, visited the Lendosky family.

Brandee provided a first-person account of the meeting on Monday.

"I could see that Mr. Bautista was coming over, but not alone. I was wondering  if he was as nervous as we were,” she said. “When he accepted our gift of a Derek T-shirt and bracelet, and then gave us the gift of his hat, I was overcome with emotion.”

Bautista presented Steve and Brandee with a Blue Jays hat he wore during the Aug. 9 game. Written on the hat is #Derek.

“When he handed that to us he was a little choked up as well,” Steve said. “That gesture made my wife start crying and me to have tears coming down my face.

“Jose hugged my wife and shook my hand. I told him we were too manly to hug. He laughed.”

Blue Jays’ second basemen Munenori Kawasaki also visited the family and received a “Do it for Derek” bracelet, which he wore throughout the game.

“Then, as more players asked for the bracelets, and actually wore them while they played, I couldn’t believe it,” Brandee said. “My son’s memory is a part of them too.”

Adam Lind hit a pair of three-run homers as the Blue Jays topped Minnesota Twins, 11-2.

Kawasaki, who hit a single in the first inning, made a fan out of Steve.

“That guy is hilarious,” he said. “I did not understand a single word he said except for ‘thank you.’

“He was a hoot during the game too. He dances between pitches.”

Blue Jays’ pitcher Emsil Rogers met the family and also received a “Do it for Derek” bracelet. The next day he allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four over a career-high 7 2/3 innings in a 2-0 win.

“To me, what they did shows what heroes and role models are supposed to be,” Brandee said. “I’m so glad Derek chose such an honorable man to look up to.

“Years from now, if Mr. Bautista or his friends have bad moments, they can always know they did something amazing to honor a little boy’s memory, to try to help a family, and to make a town smile.”

He may not go as far as to swap out all his Brewers’ memorabilia for that of the Blue Jays, but Steve will not soon forget Saturday’s experience.

“It was a pretty cool experience and a very good step on the path to healing,” he said. “It is time to celebrate Derek’s life rather than being sad all the time.

“This helped.”