Baseball proved its inspirational power again this week. In the process, Mother's Day came early in the heart of Texas.
Nothing makes a mother happier than seeing their child achieve a dream. For Gladys Alfaro, her son Christian's dream of playing baseball was always an impossible one.
Alfaro, a senior at Mesquite Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, spent the last three years student managing the varsity baseball team from his wheelchair, which is what made his mad dash around the bases last week against Terrell High School all the more improbable, the total team effort to help him get there all the more inspiring.
On the program's Senior Night last week, head coach Jeff Johnson coordinated a "senior gift" for his loyal and beloved student manager. After coordinating with the opposing team, Johnson told Alfaro he would get the opportunity to pinch-run.
Johnson just wanted Alfaro to know what it felt like to be on base. With the help of his supportive community, Alfaro scored.
"I told him five minutes before game time," Johnson said. "His smile is infectious anyway. He was beaming. He was laughing. He was so excited he was shaking a little bit. We went over the signs. I told him what to do in a pinch-running situation."
When a pickoff attempt went awry, Alfaro took off for second. With Johnson leading him, Alfaro went to third and then raced for home in his wheelchair while the crowd roared. He arrived home to a waiting mob of teammates.
"He's been all smiles and on cloud nine since," Johnson said. "I thought it would be really neat to get him into a game-like atmosphere and show him what it feels like to be a high school baseball player."
Alfaro and Johnson began to bond during Alfaro's sophomore year, when they passed the time during lunch periods talking baseball strategy. Alfaro has been paralyzed since birth, but that didn't stop his mind from analyzing every detail of his main passion, baseball, that he could. Alfaro adores the Texas Rangers, particularly Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and former prospect Jorge Alfaro, with whom he shares a surname. Johnson invited Christian into his dugout and soon he was offering lineup suggestions and hitting tips.
"The kids embraced him from the beginning," Johnson said. "He runs the stretch lines and agility lines. He's one of them. He may be a manager, but as far as the kids are concerned, he's a player. The bond they've created is special."
Alfaro's story spread across the Internet, being shared more than a million times. Rival players wrote on Facebook calling Alfaro's moment the highlight of their careers.
"It was pretty amazing," Johnson said. "It was a great moment for Christian. I think it's a great opportunity to highlight Christian. It was a great moment."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.