OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health continue the “Home Run For Life” series for an 11th season and recognize their second honoree of 2022, Casen Hazlewood of Ponca City, during the Dodgers’ 7:05 p.m. game Friday against the Reno Aces at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Hazlewood weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces at birth, as he was at just 26 weeks gestation, and went on to spend his first 154 days at INTEGRIS Health Children’s.
“Home Run For Life” recognizes individuals in the community who have overcome a significant medical event with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals. To symbolize the end of their battle against adversity, honorees take a home run “lap” around the bases during a pregame ceremony.
“Each month during the baseball season, we are proud to partner with INTEGRIS Health to honor the perseverance and courage displayed by these incredible Oklahomans,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “’Home Run For Life’ allows us to uniquely recognize their amazing and inspiring stories of triumph over significant health challenges.
Doctors determined Hazlewood had selective intrauterine growth restriction, a condition that stunted his development as his twin brother, Hudson, was getting most of the placental sharing.
Twins Casen and Hudson were born May 6, 2019, after their mother, Kari underwent an emergency cesarean section surgery.
Sadly, Hudson passed away unexpectedly from an infection just 12 days after his birth.
Soon after, Casen came down with the same infection. His parents feared the worst.
“There were multiple times we didn’t know if he was going to make it,” his father Donnie Hazlewood said.
Casen overcame the infection, just as he continues to overcome everything.
“I think he’s the toughest little kid I’ve ever seen,” Donnie said. “He’s been able to conquer and overcome so many things in his short life.”
Hazelwood’s immune system is not as strong as an average child his age. Just last August, he was hospitalized with a cold and was there until October.
“We are ready to go at a moment’s notice,” Donnie said. “A cold can put him in the hospital for a long time.”
The Hazlewoods have driven back and forth numerous times from their Ponca City home to Oklahoma City, staying in an RV most nights while their son has been in the hospital.
The family gushes about the loving and welcoming care they received at INTEGRIS Health Children’s.
“We think the world of them,” Donnie said. “We consider them some of our closest friends.”
To read Hazlewood’s full story, visit the OKC Dodgers’ “Beyond the Bricks” website at: medium.com/beyond-the-bricks. Photos of Hazlewood are attached for use (credit: OKC Dodgers).
The OKC Dodgers are in the midst of a six-game home series against the Reno Aces at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark that continues tonight at 7:05 p.m. Upcoming promotional highlights include:
• Friday, May 27 – 7:05 p.m.: An on-field naturalization ceremony will take place prior to the game as approximately 80 people will be naturalized as United States citizens. Friday Night Fireworks are scheduled to follow the game.
• Saturday, May 28 – 7:05 p.m.: The first Hometown Heroes Military Celebration Night of the season presented by Casey’s General Stores takes over Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark as the Dodgers honor the service and dedication of local military members and their families. Dodgers players and coaches will wear special camouflage jerseys and hats during the game.
The first 1,000 fans through the gates, which open at 6 p.m., will receive a camouflage OKC Dodgers hat. A mass swearing-in ceremony for new military recruits will take place pregame, as well as a flyover in conjunction with Vance Air Force Base. Military personnel from Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill will participate in pregame and in-game highlights, including a ceremonial first pitch, and the 395th Army Band from Mustang will perform the national anthem pregame. During an inning break, the band will also perform a rendition of “God Bless America.”
• Sunday, May 29 – 2:05 p.m.: Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench joins retired Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson and acclaimed photographer Jean Fruth Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to promote the non-profit Grassroots Baseball and hold a pregame book signing for “Grassroots Baseball: Route 66.” Copies of the book, in which Bench wrote the introduction and a chapter about Oklahoma, will be available for purchase in the OKC Dodgers Team Store.
Idelson and Fruth founded Grassroots Baseball with the mission of promoting and celebrating the amateur game around the globe, with a focus on growing interest and participation at the youngest levels. The overarching goal of Grassroots Baseball is to give back by providing inspiration, instruction and equipment to help ensure more children have the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy the game.
Bench is also slated to throw out a ceremonial first pitch Sunday.
Additionally on Sunday, OKC Dodgers Rookie League participants ranging in age from 3-10 will take place in a pregame parade on the field to celebrate the conclusion of the 2022 Rookie League season.
The OKC Dodgers Baseball Foundation, in partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, will host a “They Were All Stars” traveling exhibit along the concourse of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark throughout June and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the exhibit will take place during Sunday’s game. The exhibit highlights Negro League players who became Major League All-Stars.
Following the conclusion of the game, kids can take the field to run the bases like their favorite pros.
Tickets for all OKC Dodgers home games through June at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark are on sale now and range in price from $12-33. All tickets are digital and available for purchase online at okcdodgers.com/tickets. For additional information, please call (405) 218-2182 or visit okcdodgers.com.
Live radio coverage of each OKC Dodgers game begins 15 minutes before first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com and through the free iHeartRadio or MiLB First Pitch apps. All OKC Dodgers games are also available streamed live on MiLB.TV with a subscription.