Padres Keep Player On Roster So He Can Keep Insurance… For 20 Years
Most people have heard the story of Devon Still. The Cincinnati Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He ended up being cut in late August of 2014. However the next day, the team signed him to their practice squad, to help him pay for his daughter's cancer treatment.
The San Diego Padres (the El Paso Chihuahua's Major League affiliate) have been doing something similar, but for 20 years. The Padres drafted Matt LaChappa in the second round of the 1993 draft. Things were going well for LaChappa. He was rising through the minor league system when suddenly in 1996, he suffered a massive heart attack. Two heart attacks in one night actually.
A virus had formed around his heart. His playing career was over, but he was lucky to be alive. Thankfully Priscilla Oppenheimer, the director of Minor League operations was there. She had developed a bond with LaChappa while he played through the minors, so this hit her hard as well.
Oppenheimer wasn't going to let LaChappa fend for himself after such a traumatic life event. So after his career ending heart attacks, she resigned him to his minor league contract. And now, 20 years later, LaChappa is still signed to that same contract, which isn't necessarily about the money. LaChappa needs round the clock care, but one thing he and his family don't need to worry about, is his insurance situation.