(JTA) — Major League baseball star Yasiel Puig visited a Jewish camp for kids with cancer and called it “one of the best days” of his life.
Puig, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, who played for the Cincinnati Reds in the first half of this year, rented a helicopter to visit Camp Simcha in New York’s Catskill Mountains on Aug. 19. It’s an overnight summer camp for children and teens with cancer and other terminal illnesses that serves kosher food.
Puig, a former All-Star, had a free day between series against the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. He decided to visit the camp after a request from Irv Bauman, who he met in 2013 when he was playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bauman’s grandson was working at the camp and asked his grandfather if he could finagle a visit from Puig.
Puig wore a fake tiger head over his trademark bright-red dyed hair and first removed it when he entered a room full of children, who went crazy when they saw him, Major League Baseball reported.
He spent four hours at the camp participating in camp activities and sat in the infirmary with a boy who was too sick to participate.
“[A boy] started talking about baseball, saying, ‘I love the way you play. Keep going, fight,’” Puig told MLB. “And I said, ‘Oh, I’m the one coming here to tell you to keep fighting and everything will be fine, and you’re the one telling me to keep going, fight and work hard’ — and that made my day.”
After his visit he tweeted: “Today was one of the best days of my life. I want to thank so many people, starting with all of my new friends at (Camp Simcha). Thank you for welcoming me and giving me your smiles today. You are my inspiration and when I do good things on the field I will do it for you.”