MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Louis Park teenager who died after a battle with leukemia is being remembered in a very special way.
Eighteen-year-old Derrick Keller was a stand-out high school baseball player and was offered a scholarship to Southwest Minnesota State University. But before he could go to college, he was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away last summer.
On Wednesday, the city made sure he will be a part of every St. Louis Park baseball game going forward.
During a ceremony that involved ball players, city officials, family and friends, Dakota Field officially became Derrick Keller Field. His number (#12) is proudly shown on the field’s brand new scoreboard. For Derrick’s dad, Bob Keller, it’s bittersweet.
“This is an extreme honor. This is the hardest day I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t tell you how much Linda and I miss Derrick and how much we wish he could be back here,” Keller said.
Derrick was the first person in the world to receive a unique cord blood transplant. He looked forward to playing baseball in college.
“As soon as I can get back to playing ball and being the normal me again, it will feel great,” said Derrick from a hospital bed in February 2012.
But sadly, that never happened. Still, Wednesday proved that Derrick can still light up a scoreboard.
“I can see myself coming back here and sitting in the stands when nobody is here and just looking at that wonderful scoreboard,” said his father.
Players looked to the sky Wednesday when the scoreboard lit up. A former teammate threw a first pitch. And then, for a few seconds, it wasn’t about baseball, but a final message and a request from a father to a son.
“I’m so proud of him right now,” Keller said. “I love you, Derrick. I know you’re there watching and please bring some sun tomorrow.”
The St. Louis Park Dugout Club is still accepting donations for the scoreboard. Checks can be made out to the SLP Dugout Club and sent to:
SLP Dugout Club
5115 Excelsior Blvd, #450
St. Louis Park, MN 55416