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Red Robin softball team plays in memory of former employee

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - PDXtreme, the Portland Airport Red Robin team, and the Blue Sox, the Gresham Station Red Robin team, shared this years title.

Usually after a softball game there’s a winner and a loser.

But on Tuesday, July 31, that was not the case. Two teams — the Gresham Station Blue Sox and PDXtreme — shared the winning title in an annual softball tournament between Oregon and Washington Red Robin restaurants.

Originally, The Blue Sox took the title after winning all three of the day’s games. They did what they set out to do two years earlier and won in the honor of a teammate, Josh Prediletto, who had died in 2010.

However, as stated by the tournament rules, the second-place team had a right to challenge the Blue Sox’s victory. The second-place team, PDXtreme, from Portland, challenged Gresham. Gresham accepted.

All 14 members of the team unanimously agreed to defend their newly earned title.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - contributed PHOTOs Josh Prediletto, above and right, died of Wilson€sˇÃ„ôs disease in 2010. He loved baseball and played on the Red Robin softball team.“He (Prediletto) would want us to play for it, so we did,” said Gresham Blue Sox coach Stephen Farr.

They lost 13-9.

Farr said they felt good about it, though. “According to the rules, we had won,” he said. Even if they held the title for only a moment, “We did what we came to do.”

The Portland team had something more in store, though. “When we found out (Gresham) had promised to bring the trophy home for Josh, we decided we would play to win, but no matter what, the trophy would go home with them,” said PDXtreme coach Jose Sosa. “We were touched that they had taken it upon themselves to work as hard as they did.”

Portland not only decided to share the winning title with Gresham, allowing the Blue Sox to take home the trophy, it also had the connections to rename the trophy. From now on, teams in the Red Robin Softball Tournament will play for the Josh Prediletto memorial trophy.

When Portland announced this, Farr cried. It’s cool that Josh will be remembered every year, he said.

Farr and his teammates weren’t the only ones touched by the motion; the Prediletto family was as well.

“That they’re still holding him in their hearts after two years is amazing,” Prediletto’s mother, Nancy, said. His father, Michael, added that the gesture was well-deserving and he felt great hearing the news.

His sister, Angela, says it’s probably the best way to honor him. “He loved baseball.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Prediletto was a member of the Kennewick, Wash., all-star baseball team.  Prediletto grew up in a room full of Major League Baseball decorations. He even had an MLB bedspread. His sister remembers he was always on the Kennewick all-star baseball team. He also had a passion for basketball.

Josh moved from Washington to Gresham his freshman year of high school. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, he played on the Barlow High School basketball team, setting a school record for the highest field goal percentage in a season.

After two years at Chemeketa Community College, Prediletto secured a job working in Disney World. Suddenly, he got sick. “We had to fly him home,” his mom said.

Prediletto, then 19, was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease. “Basically, his body couldn’t excrete copper,” his dad said.

With the right diet and medication, Prediletto would be fine for a while.

Prediletto took a job at Red Robin. He worked there for six years. He was a “happy, fun, bubbly teddy bear,” Farr said. Any time anyone would have a bad day, Prediletto would take the time to ask what was going on and try to help.

He loved singing “Sweet Caroline” at karaoke, and he loved playing pool. “He was a great guy,” his father said.

And he really loved playing with the Red Robin softball team, where he was always first baseman, his mom added.

No matter how competitive he was, he was also caring. Farr remembered Prediletto’s last game with the Gresham Red Robin team — Prediletto had accidentally knocked over a girl when he caught the ball. Farr said. Prediletto was so busy helping the girl he completely forgot he had a ball in his hand. In the last moment, he looked down, realized it and threw the ball to the right person to stop the run.

Prediletto shared his illness with few people at work. Farr said he was surprised when he found out: “He didn’t wear it on his sleeve.”

In fact, Prediletto was struggling. His mom explained that he lost his insurance and couldn’t afford his medication but wouldn’t look for a better paying job because he loved Red Robin so much. Luckily, he found organizations that donated his medications.

He worked until two weeks before he died. He spent his final days at Oregon Health & Science University; coworkers would carpool over after work at 11 p.m. Nancy Prediletto said Josh broke a record by having 140 visitors.

Farr, who worked and played softball with Prediletto for two years, said he feels the team did right by Josh this year and that from the experience he has learned “life’s biggest tasks are best accomplished by teams.”

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