Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Baseball team adopts child


A 38th player was added to the University’s baseball team on Saturday. Unlike the rest of his teammates, Grayson Anderson is not more than five feet tall, and he is not enrolled at the University.

Anderson is a 4-year-old boy from Midland City who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only 2 years old.

“The biggest thing for our guys and for the Anderson family is that this isn’t a one-day event,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “This is something that we’re taking on where we want to be there to support Grayson and his family in those difficult days that they have.”

On Saturday, Anderson was given his own Alabama locker and baseball gear. Grayson and his family also participated in all of the team’s activities before the Crimson Tide’s scrimmage.

Grayson’s first practice with the team included on-field, pre-scrimmage warm-ups and ended with him and his family joining the team for the postgame meal.

“It shows you how small baseball is in comparison to everything else,” junior outfielder/infielder Jon Kelton said. “It’s what we do all day, everyday. You get so caught up in it that when you see a kid and his family that is going through something like that, you realize how unimportant it is compared to that. It’s just nice to make an impact.”

Anderson was partnered with the Alabama baseball team through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization formed in 2005 to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families.

Friends of Jaclyn matches a child in need of support with a college or high school sports team based on a geographic basis. After the adoption process is complete, the child becomes an extension of the team where a unique bond is formed between the team members, the child and the family.

“It’s almost like medicine,” said Brandon Anderson, Grayson’s father. “For so long you hear the bad, the bad, the bad, and you just know the bad, but this way we can just focus on him and the players can focus on him. It allows the whole family to just forget about the brain tumor and just focus on the good. He calls all these guys his brothers right now, so he knows what this means to him.”

Although Anderson’s brain tumor was surgically removed on Oct. 6, 2008, in a follow-up MRI on Feb. 10, 2009, doctors found a residual tumor in his brain stem. The tumor is still present, but has not grown.

“When you hear background and some of the things we heard today, you certainly feel fortunate for what you have,” Gaspard said. “I think [Danny Lam, a volunteer from the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation] said it best when he said what we’re trying to do is put a smile on their face now and for the future. I know our players will certainly do a good job of that.”

Last season, the Tide welcomed Grayson to be a part of their team, but it was decided during the offseason to officially make him and his family a part of Alabama baseball. Grayson was given No. 15 and is now formally on the team.

“We realize any time that you’re dealing with a brain tumor that every day isn’t going to be rosy,” Gaspard said. “We want to be a small part of doing what we can to help on those days. We want to do what we can to be there for his family and support them in those tough times.”

Although this is Grayson’s first time as an official member of the team, the team said they hope to see him again soon.

“He’s welcome back whenever he wants,” Kelton said. “He’s a part of the team now. He’s got his own locker and gear, so [he can return] whenever he wants.”

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