Sure it feels great when you “win the big game” or “get the big hit” or “scoring the winning basket or touchdown.”
But sometimes, it’s not always about that. Sometimes, it’s just about “having the ability to compete.”
The Miami Springs majors Little League all-star team suffered through a miserable six-game round robin tournament a few weeks ago in which not only did they fail to win a single game, but got 10-run mercy-ruled in every contest.
But, not only did the team as a whole hang tough and battle to the very end but a truly great story emerged in the form of 12-year-old Moises Segurola.
Segurola you see, is autistic.
Just in case anyone needs a quick update, Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior.
It means that Moises Segurola was anything but your average Little Leaguer dealing with a severe handicap, although you might not have ever known it by watching him play.
“Carlos Rey came up to me at the end of the regular season when I was putting the all-star team together and talked to me about him,” said Eric Argote Sr. who head coached the majors all-stars. “He told me about Moises and his physical challenges and and encouraged me to find a roster spot for him. I was glad I did as he turned out to be a kid who our entire team rallied around.”
While Argote Sr. said that Segurola certainly could play, he did suffer from “being afraid of the ball.”
“My biggest priority going in was I didn’t want him to get hurt,” Argote Sr. said. “We had to find out where we could put him on the field and discovered he could pitch a little bit so I put him on the mound a few times and the rest of the time we would put him in right field. If a ball got hit out there, the rest of the kids on the team, whoever was at second base or center field, told me they’d hustle out there to get it.”
Many times, it was Moises’ own brother, Jacob Segurola who came to the rescue since he was the team’s center fielder often.
“What was really great to see was how all of the kids rallied around him,” said Argote Sr. “Even though Jacob was his brother, all of the kids kind of became his brother.”
Argote Sr. told the story of how he would always have to inform the umpires before the game of Moises’ handicap and how one coach chose to take advantage of the situation.
“We were playing Upper Keys down in Key Largo one night and all of a sudden we hear their coach from the dugout telling his kids to hit it to right,” said Argote Sr. “So leave it to my son (Eric Argote Jr.) who was on the pitchers mound to yell back to their coach and say ‘that’s real classy coach, why don’t you put me out there and try and hit it to me instead.’ ”
But the Upper Keys game was the exception, not the rule.
“Most everyone else was great about it,” Argote Sr. said. “The North Miami coaches were really something. After they were way ahead in the game, I think they even intentionally walked him a couple of times just so he could get on base and run around a little and purposely did not hit it to right field.”