Zach Renner tried out for the Northern (Ownings, Md.) baseball team each of his four years of high school. He was cut every time.
Renner suffers from a minor form of cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination.
This year, however, he agreed to become the team manager at the behest of his friends on the team.
The Washington Post tells Renner’s incredible story, which included a storybook moment last Friday night.
As the Post tells it, after Northern jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Patuxent (Lusby, Md.) by the fourth inning on senior night, head coach Bobby Gibbons approached Renner. He told Renner to put down the scorebook and to grab a helmet and a bat. It was time for him to pinch-hit.
“There were a lot of emotions going through my head,” Renner told the Post. “I was saying, ‘Don’t strike out.’ ”
“I’ve never seen a kid’s face light up like his did when I told him to grab the bat and go hit, “ Gibbons said. “It was a great, great baseball moment.”
Renner let the first two pitches go for balls, then swung and missed on the third pitch.
According to the Post, before the game, Gibbons had met with Patuxent’s coaches and told them of his plan. He also told them not to take it easy on Renner, as he knew the team manager wouldn’t want that.
The fourth pitch was the one, it turned out. Renner laced the 2-1 offering for an opposite-field line drive.
“Mom, dad, grandma, all of them were crying, seeing me running there to first base,” Renner told the Post. “It was a good night for me.”
Renner later learned that all of his teammates were in on Gibbons’ decision to put him in the game.
“The high school part of my life, nothing much exciting happened for me sporting wise,” Renner said. “I went to most sporting events. I went to football, basketball, baseball. I went out and supported my friends. I went out every week.”
With a left leg that has been operated on four times, which makes running a struggle, Renner was subbed out after his base hit.
The Post tells the rest.
He retreated to the bench and went to pick up the scorers book, but Northern senior Justin Hitt had other ideas.
“You’re a player now,” Hitt said to him. “You just watch. I’ll do it.”
What a great moment for a deserving kid.