Matt Kemp is currently experiencing the other side of superstardom in Los Angeles. Fans who once glorified his name have now began booing him during plate appearances. His hitting has regressed dramatically and he's hitting just .253 this season. To compound his bat troubles, Kemp also forgot to pay his power bill. The 28-year-old slugger has bashed just two home runs this season and is on pace to hit just seven after averaging 30 dingers over the past four seasons.
The boos from Dodger faithful have grown so strong that at one point Kemp joked that "It felt like I was in AT&T Park."
Ironically, Kemp's closest fan is 19-year-old Joshua Jones, whom he met after a Dodgers-Giants game at AT&T Park three weeks ago. Jones' father had one simple request for Kemp to autograph a baseball for his terminally ill son. Instead, Kemp trotted over to the baseline box seats where Jones was sitting and offered up his cleats, jersey and Dodgers cap, but he wasn't done. On Monday, they reunited at Dodger Stadium after Kemp flew him in for a home game against the Angels, then introduced him to Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout.
Steve Jones, Josh's dad, said he received a call 10 days ago that Kemp wanted them to pick a Dodgers game to come to, so they chose Monday's game against the Angels.
Kemp paid for the trip for Josh, his brother, Ryan, and dad Steve to Los Angeles.
While Kemp was talking to Jones, he summoned over Angels star Mike Trout.
"Come meet my little homie," Kemp told Trout. "This is Joshua."
Not that Trout needed an introduction, but Kemp introduced him not by his name but as "one of the best players in baseball."
Dodgers president Stan Kasten and
owner Mark Walter introduced themselves as well.
Kemp asked Jones who he'd also like to meet. When Jones said Clayton Kershaw, Kemp made it happen. Kershaw came out to chat with Jones and they learned they both love the No. 22.
"So what's better?" Kerhsaw asked. "This ballpark or San Francisco's ballpark?"
Jones said Dodger Stadium. He lives in Northern California but is a Dodger fan.
Jones' dad, Steve, still can't believe Kemp's gestures.
"We didn't expect any of this," he said. "We asked Tim Wallach to come over (in San Francisco) and I expected Matt would maybe give an autograph or come say hi. We both had our mouths open. 'Wow. What's he doing?' And then to fly us down here."
Kemp doesn't take his career for or his celebrity for granted. Kemp has fallen far from grace as the Dodgers beloved hitter, but instead of turning on the fans and retreating into a cocoon, Kemp has demonstrated he's still a standup guy even in tough times.