Little League baseball sometimes draws criticism focusing on overzealous parents or coaches, but on a dusty Pulaski County field this summer, one special little boy inspired everyone he touched to do the right thing.
Dakota Barron was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in vital organs including the brain. HIs condition prevented him from playing in the Pulaski County Little League, but kind hearted coach Rusty Hendricks invited Dakota to become the batboy for his team, the Mets.
Coach Hendricks says, "Dakota was at every practice and every game and he worked just as hard as any other player on the team, and I just wanted to get him involved in any possible way I could. We would ask opposing coaches if Dakota could get a turn at bat, and whether he hit the ball fair or foul, hard or soft, he would run the bases, and the other team would throw the ball around and allow him to get a home run. Andeverybody in the park was cheering for him."
Coach Hendricks's All-Star team surprisingly battled its way out of the loser's bracket to win a big tournament, and since all the boys except Dakota had individual trophies, the coach told his players he wanted to give the first place team trophy they earned to Dakota.
Hendricks say, "All the kids love him so I think him just being there and cheering them on was an inspiration for them. That may have been the most excited that I've ever seen them when they realized that Dakota was gonna get the opportunity to have a trophy."
Angie Barron, Dakota's mom, says, "He loved that thing. He carried it around with him for two weeks and even took it to church with him the next day."
And no one who witnessed it will ever forget Dakota's championship season.