PITTSBURGH -- Matthew Beichner sat with his family waiting to eat lunch in center field of his favorite team's ballpark when they were joined by an unexpected, yet welcomed visitor. The Beichners were guests in his domain, after all.
Andrew McCutchen shared crab legs and laughs with Matthew, and the lunch was just the beginning of a memorable day. Matthew, a 12-year-old who has been diagnosed with Germinoma, had his dreams play out in front of him as he not only met his favorite player, but signed a one-day contract, got his own jersey and locker in the Pirates' clubhouse and threw out the first pitch before the Bucs faced the Dodgers on Tuesday night. The team partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make the events possible.
"It was one of the best days ever," said Matthew at a news conference where he was all smiles.
Matthew is a Colorado Springs, Colo., native, but has grown up a Pirates fan as his dad is a native of New Castle, Pa. His parents and sister made the trip with him and were all present at the lunch table with the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. Matthew's father, Rick, said 12-14 family members were in attendance for the game to watch his son take the mound.
"It's amazing, it's more than we ever could have wished for," Matthew's mother, Kim, said, fighting back tears. "I'm glad we get to do it with everything he's been through."
Matthew's interactions with McCutchen -- who he called his favorite player because "he's fast like me" -- didn't end after they ate. The duo played catch on the field, and Matthew saw McCutchen take batting practice up close and personal.
Matthew, an up-and-comer on the diamond where he mainly plays shortstop and pitcher, said he didn't ask for any tips from the five-year Major League veteran. In fact, it was the other way around.
"I need his advice," McCutchen said. "I'd put up my glove to catch, and he hit my glove every single time. I was like, 'All right, how do you do that?'"
"I'm pretty good to be playing MLB at 12 years old," Matthew joked.
Of course, Matthew doesn't get to play baseball as much as he'd like, dealing with hospital visits and various treatments, including chemotherapy. But, make no mistake, he laces up his cleats and puts on his glove as much as he can.
"He has handled everything like a champ," Kim added. "He very rarely complains. He still has days he doesn't feel good or aches or whatever. But he powers through and does what he has to do. He played baseball while he was still undergoing chemo."
And Matthew hasn't just played, he's played extremely well.
"He spent a week in the hospital, got out on Wednesday and threw a no-hitter on Saturday," Rick said. "I'm so proud of him."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less