Tears flowed with the first pitch of the Montesano Little League season on Saturday.
No one cared if it was a strike or ball. No one cared that the ceremony was moved inside for the weather. The smile on the face of Evan Gentry melted all those cares away.
Gentry, 10, has been legally blind since birth, but he doesn’t slow down because of it. He competes in the Special Olympics and is the manager for youth wrestling just as a way to be a part of the team. This season, he wanted to try a new sport so his mother Breanna asked Montesano Little League President Steve Bove. Soon, Evan had a spot on the A’s tee ball team. Gentry is not completely blind, but has very little sight so he will have an individual help lead him to the plate and around the bases and one of the coaches will stand close to him when he is in the field and help him find the ball. If baseball goes well for Gentry, Evan hopes to play football this fall.
When it came time for Bove to pick someone to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season, Evan came to mind.
“I asked him if he was interested in doing it and I thought it would be kind of cool for him to get out and do it and he said it was the coolest thing he has ever been asked to do,” Bove said. “It was great. I almost cried.”
Gentry was the first of the almost 250 little leaguers who were introduced to the public during an opening day ceremony in the Montesano Junior High School gymnasium on Saturday. After his name echoed through the speakers, Evan made his way through the line of the Montesano High School baseball players shaking hands with a big smile on his face.
There was a time when Breanna thought she wouldn’t have the chance to watch her son play a sport. A bone in Evan’s skull did not develop properly so when Gentry was nine months old he had a brain surgery. He had a breathing tube and a feeding tube for four years. There was a nose surgery and an eye surgery.
“We spent more time in the hospital during his first year of life than we did out,” Breanna said. “They didn’t think he would be here right now, so for him to still be here is great. He has been through a lot of stuff.”
After all of the players were introduced, it was time for Gentry to make his way out to the rubber. One of the older players led Gentry to the middle of the basketball court and pointed him toward the rubber home plate. He wound up and put his might behind throwing the ball to Monte High School catcher Jordan Bussard. The ball landed a few feet short and just a little bit to the left as the crowd showered Gentry with applause.
“I started crying a little bit,” Breanna said. “He just loves sports so to see him out there participating is great.”
Bussard and all of the Bulldogs signed the ball and introduced themselves to the young player. When they posed for a group picture, no smile was bigger than that of the 10-year-old.
“It was fun,” Evan said.
His favorite part of playing baseball is hitting, but he will not soon forget the first pitch. He left the gym with a white cane in one hand, a baseball in the other and a smile on his face.
“He is always so happy,” Breanna said. “He is never sad, never cries and he goes through so much stuff that to see him out here doing this is just amazing. He loves it.”