Autism Awareness Day Means More to Kernels, Batboy

John Campbell, TV9 Sports


By Grant Burkhardt

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kernels wear special promotional jerseys several times during the season, but these may have been a little more special than the others.

Saturday night was Autism Awareness Night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Kernels lost to Beloit, 1-0, before 5,277 fans.

Nifty looking purple tops with green and orange puzzle pieces on the sleeves and numbers were auctioned to benefit autism awarness. That included the number 26 worn by perhaps the Kernels’ biggest fan.

Jon Teig, who is autistic, has been a batboy for the club for 12 years. He’s the guy who sprints after foul balls, does a Chi-Chi Rodriquez style sword-putting-away thing with bats after the Kernels score a run and dances in the clubhouse to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” to celebrate victories.

“Jon-Jon,” as he affectionately known, lives for the Kernels and Iowa Hawkeyes.

“I like ‘em,” he said, when asked about the purple jerseys. “They’re like my Hawkeye (jerseys).”

“It certainly makes this a special night, to be able to support autism awareness,” Kernels general manager Doug Nelson said. “Jon-Jon is a fixture at the ballpark. He loves the Kernels.”

The Kernels said they hoped to raise at least $2,500 through the jersey auction, with every available one having at least one bid. Teig was the highest bidder on his jersey, adding to his extensive collection of special Kernels jerseys.

“A night like this makes me think about it more,” said Bob Teig, Jon’s father. “As I was walking down the aisle to my seat tonight, I saw the jerseys, and I saw Jon. It made me feel so grateful to the Kernels and so many others for what they’ve done for autism awareness. The Kernels do such a great job with so many good causes.”

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