Alex Acevedo faced a full count in his first varsity at-bat for the Corona del Mar High baseball team. For four years he had been waiting for this opportunity, hoping for his chance to smack the ball with his bat.
Four years ago the thought of that seemed unattainable, a monumental challenge to say the least.
But to Alex overcoming obstacles has become routine.
At birth, he was near death. With developmental delays since he's always had challenges. This ball coming at him didn't seem to be anything more than a simple pitch.
Alex probably could've taken a walk to first, but instead he belted a high fly ball to center field. The ball was "hard to handle." By the time Alex rounded second base, the Irvine Vaqueros were still trying to gather themselves. And Alex just kept running.
Alex Acevedo's Big Day
Corona del Mar High senior Alex Acevedo hits a HR in his first varsity at-bat. (Photos by Don Leach | Daily Pilot)
As he sprinted toward home, his teammates gathered around the plate jumping and cheering for him, as did the crowd. Everybody wanted to see Alex's "inside the park" home run.
"Wow, this is amazing for me to get my first varsity hit as a senior," Alex said. "It felt amazing."
Those who love Alex (and that would be basically everyone) couldn't help but tear up at the site of Alex and his teammates celebrating after the 1-0 lead. It was part of CdM's 7-2 win. In truth, everyone won.
His mom, Valerie, did the best she could to record the action on video, as she shook with excitement.
She's seen Baby Alex grow into the 18-year-old many people call, "Big Al."
"When he was born he had a 5% chance of living," Valerie said of Alex, who suffered from pulmonary hypertension, low oxgyen to the brain, and a hole in his heart and a cranium in need of surgery at birth. "He's our miracle baby. He survived. They told us he would never walk or talk, read or write and here he is graduating from high school. He is a miracle."
Alex's father, Alex Sr., said he was overwhelmed to see his son hit the ball and everyone cheer for him. The father said he never thought something like this could happen.
When Alex was a freshman Alex Sr. spoke to Coach John Emme and asked if his son, with the developmental challenges, could play on the team. Alex Sr. thought Emme was the freshman baseball coach.
That didn't bother Emme at all. The coach said, "I'm going to take him under my wing. And, by the way, I'm the varsity coach."
"They developed a really good relationship," Alex Sr. said of Emme and Alex. "He really likes Alex. For me it's special."
The father was proud to see his son accomplish so much in the four years with the team. Alex motivated teammates to try their hardest because he knows anything is possible. Alex is set to graduate and will continue to study at Irvine Valley College. He also has a home with his family at CdM. He wants to come back as an assistant coach with Emme.
"If you would've told me that first day of practice that one day he would go up to bat it's unbelievable," said Alex Sr., who added that his son cried before the first day of practice as a freshman because he was so grateful to be included. "I was overwhelmed. It's joy. You realize that anything is possible. That's just the way Alex is. His boldness opens doors for him. He's engaging. Everyone likes him. To see the crowd shows how much they care for him."
Alex Sr. said Alex's younger typical brother Austin, who is a freshman at Orange Lutheran, has a strong love for his older brother. The added love and support from Austin has helped Alex conquer challenges, the proud dad said.
Coach Emme, who is in his 19th year at CdM, is also proud.
"He crushed it," Emme said of Alex's big hit. "He got around the bases. Irvine couldn't really make the play on him. He's going to go down with a career stat line of one for one with a run scored and an RBI, .4000 slugging percentage. It doesn't get any sweeter than that."