Wheelchair-bound high school senior scores big as pinch runner

For years, Christian Alfaro has watched his teammates run around the baseball diamond while he’s sat on the bench and watched, never getting a chance of his own. That changed last week in a moment that has since gone viral.

Story via Jennifer Earl, CBS News

Mesquite Poteet High School head coach Jeff Johnson tapped the wheelchair-bound Alfaro to pinch run for varsity player Zack Baker in the first inning of the team’s senior night game against their rivals, the Terrell Tigers.

“I wanted him to experience what it’s like to go around the bags and score,” Johnson told CBS News. “To give him the moment that he’s wanted and he’s deserved.”

For three years, the Texas student has sat alongside Johnson in the dugout as team manager, calling pitches, giving signs and whispering suggestions in the coach’s ear; he was more like an assistant coach than anything.

But he still longed for more.

“He wanted to do more than he was physically able to do,” Johnson explained.

On April 29, Alfaro proved that he was up to the job — both on and off the field.

With his jersey on and his wheels ready, Alfaro jumped at the opportunity to steal second as he watched the pitcher throw the ball past the first baseman on a pick-off attempt.

He rounded second, then third. The opposing team could be seen fumbling the ball in the background.

Alfaro was on his way home, keeping pace with the applause coming from the stands, when he watched his teammates crowd the plate in celebration.

Poteet Pirate fans weren’t the only ones on their feet cheering. Across the field, the Terrell High School players were clapping their hands, exchanging fist bumps and smiling.

The teams worked together to make Alfaro’s dream come true.

Ahead of the game, Johnson revealed that he called Terrell head coach Ed Padalecki to fill him in on his plan to sub Alfaro in. Before he even finished his sentence, Padalecki cut him off: “Yeah, we gotta do that.”

“They were not only willing, but wanted to make this a special night for Christian,” Johnson said. “They were as excited as our kids were.”

A video of the play went viral with more than 1.1 million views since it was posted on Terrell Daily Photo’s Facebook page later that night.

At the end of the video, Johnson pointed out Terrell player number 15, clapping his glove and tipping his hat at Alfaro and the team.

The rival player, identified as William Hall, said it was the highlight of his high school baseball career.

“To shake his hand at the end of the game and see the smile on his face was the perfect way to end my senior year,” Hall wrote on Facebook.

Alfaro’s fellow teammate Hunter Foster agreed, “Christian is truly the heart and soul of our team. He inspires us each and every day to work hard and get better no matter the circumstances.”

The team will miss Christian next year, Johnson said, but he wouldn’t be surprised if he got a text or two from the teen with tips to improve his game.