It all started with a bet.
Two years ago, WWE wrestler and actor John Cena was at dinner with two friends, Rob Vetere and Colin Young, at a Tampa Bay steakhouse when they invited two young baseball players, Logan Allen and Ryne Stanek, to sit down with them.
They started talking around 9 p.m. about family, baseball and, most importantly, what motivated them. For Allen it is his older brother, Phillip, who has been confined to a wheelchair since he was 2 years old because of a severe medical condition.
Cena, whose brother survived Stage 4 brain cancer, felt for Allen. They talked and talked until 4 a.m.
“We were both old enough to talk openly about our lives and our values and our beliefs,” Cena said. “Logan is somebody that I admire. The way he lives his life, I admire it. He’s one of the good guys in sport and sport needs more good guys like Logan Allen.”
The wrestling star then turned to Allen, impressed by his outlook on life at a young age, and he made a friendly wager with him. If Allen were to make his major league debut, Cena would be there in person and, in front of the whole crowd, would hand Allen a $1 bill. If Cena won, then Allen would hand him a $1 bill. Cena said the reason why he did it was to give Allen that motivation he needed by already being doubted.
“It’s exciting to say I had that chip on my shoulder of him betting against me and now I get to cash it in,” said Allen.
Tuesday night, Allen made his debut for the San Diego Padres and with his family (his older brother couldn’t make the trip) and Cena watching, he had one for the ages. The IMG Academy product pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only three hits while striking out five. He also got his first career win, hit and run scored. He basically did it all.
“I was extremely emotional,” said Cena about Allen’s debut. “It’s the culmination of a $1 gentlemen’s bet we had, but I really tip my hat to Logan. I think him allowing me to be in included in such a special moment for him says a lot about who Logan Allen is as a man.”
Cena wrote on the front side of the dollar bill “To Logan I was wrong!” and his autograph, but the back read, “The hard work starts now! Good Luck!”
Cena wrote that is because he knows the easy part is getting to the big times while the hardest part is proving why you deserve to stay.
Before the bet was cashed in, Cena walked around Petco Park meeting young fans, taking pictures, signing autographs and thanking them for being part of the “Cenation,” (his fan group) and fans off WWE (or the WWE Universe).
When Allen went to the mound, the Padres showed Cena on the jumbotron explaining the bet and what his friendship with the rookie pitcher meant to him.
The song “My Time is Now”, which is Cena’s entrance music in WWE, hit and Cena took the dollar bill out of his pocket handed it to Allen and congratulated him.
Cena was a man of his word.
Now with all the glamour of his debut over and the bet being paid, Allen can get back to making sure he stays in the major league for years to come.