What players expected to be a typical baseball practice at Canyon High School turned into so much more on Friday afternoon.
At the start of the 2:15 p.m. practice, representatives from SoCal Honda Dealers arrived and explained that they were there as part of the Random Acts of Helpfulness campaign, which promotes volunteer work in Southern California communities.
They also told the Cowboys that they had brought a surprise guest with them.
“I had no clue (who it could be),” said Canyon pitcher Jace Root. “Someone screamed out Cody Bellinger or like Max Muncy, but I had no idea. No one came to mind.”
Moments later, former Dodgers player Adrian Gonzalez walked onto the field.
“Once I realized who it was, I was like, ‘Wow that is insane,’” Root, a senior, said.
Gonzalez, a first-baseman played 15 seasons in the MLB, starting in 2004 with the Texas Rangers. He also played five seasons with the San Diego Padres and had a brief stint with the Boston Red Sox before spending six seasons with the Dodgers.
His final season was in 2018 with the New York Mets and he finished his MLB career with 317 home runs and a .287 batting average.
Gonzalez spent an hour with the Cowboys, participating in multiple drills. He played catch with Canyon catcher Tyler DeYoung, threw BP to hitters and then finally took part in BP himself.
“It just kind of shows that the type of level you have to be at in order to get there,” Root said. “I’m a pitcher and he was a hitter, so I don’t really correspond, but I kind of learned what a major league baseball looks like. It comes off the bat pretty hard.”
In addition to bringing Gonzalez to practice, SoCal Honda Dealers donated 20 yards of soil from Peach Hill Soil in Ventura to use on Canyon’s field.
The donation from Honda comes a little over a month after the Canyon football team received a $10,000 grant from Riddell to purchase new equipment as part of the company’s “Smarter Football” campaign.
The Cowboys also received a personalized video message from former NFL player Peyton Manning congratulating them on the grant.
Just as the grant and message from a former pro had motivated the Canyon football team, the donation and surprise from Honda also motivated the baseball team.
“It gets you a little excited,” Root said. “Everyone’s goal is to become as successful as him, so guys are pretty pumped.
“It was just really cool to see him. He’s a major league player, so everyone looks up to him and he’s a really good influence to be around. It was a really good time of the boys and everyone to see him.”