Once he was rated as one of the top baseball prospects in the San Diego Padres organization until he suffers a massive heart attack while warming up in the bullpen before a game. Matt LaChappa was on the fast path to achieving his dream of becoming a MLB pitcher. The left-handed pitcher was regarded as one of the rising top baseball prospects in the whole Padres organization until this happens…
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LaChappa had a hard fastball, knee buckling curveball as you seen on the video and even had one of the better pick-off moves around. In 1996 something horribly went wrong as he did his usual routine of warming up in the bullpen before he entered the game and he suffered the heart attack. He would endure two heart attacks that night, which the cause was because of an undetected virus that formed around his heart.
“He had so much potential and for his potential to be cut so short at a young age, is heartbreaking,” says his brother, Eagle LaChappa.
What happened next was totally unexpected! Priscilla Oppenheimer was the director of Minor League operations during the 1990’s, which meant she was the ring leader in what is said and what is done on anything that had to do with any of the minor league players. She was the boss!
“He had amazing character, good makeup, he had it all,” said Oppenheimer. “To have everything wiped away so fast, it was like, oh my God, why did this happen?”
She had the choice to resign LaChappa’s contract the following year which she obviously had the power to do and had zero obligation to keep his contract.
“Every year I would just give him a new contract, it was for a minimum amount of salary, but it was the insurance that really helped, especially since he needed 24 hour care.”
20 years later Matt LaChappa is still signed to that same minor deal. Even though today he is mostly confined to a wheelchair and it’s difficult for him to speak or move, LaChappa has become a well-known figure in the Padres organization. If you are a part of the padres organization, I guarantee you will know of Matt. We all all praying for you Matt!! If you have any questions or concerns you can contact www.heart.org.
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