Fayetteville kid connects with his baseball dream

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 1:43pm
By: Kevin Wandra

One of the hardest tasks in sports is hitting a baseball.

Just imagine attempting to hit a baseball while legally blind.

Fayetteville’s Myles Weathersby did just that and more.

Weathersby, an 11-year-old, first-year student at Rising Starr Middle School, was born with Amblyopia, or “lazy eye.” In amblyopia, one eye is stronger than the other, and it can cause loss of vision and depth perception.

Weathersby was legally blind, but his vision improved over the last three years by using eye patches, a standard treatment for amblyopia. Now, with the help of glasses, his corrected vision is 20/30.

Two years ago, Myles’ mother, Kim Weathersby, was looking at sports she thought her son might want to play. Myles played soccer for a year, but he wasn’t passionate about the sport.

Kim Weathersby, a die-hard Georgia Tech baseball fan, encouraged him to give baseball a try. Myles joined a Fayette County recreational league team for 9- and 10-year-olds at Kiwanis Park in Fayetteville.

“When I first started, I didn’t know anything about baseball,” Myles said. “My mom taught me about the game and got me into it. Once I started playing, I liked it a lot.”

He played the entire year, and, though he made contact once or twice, he didn’t accomplish his goal of getting at least one hit.

Myles wasn’t discouraged, though. He joined the same league the following season. He began the new season determined to get a hit, but he couldn’t connect with the ball.

A few games into the season, Kim Weathersby decided that Myles needed professional help, so she called the Dugout Club, a baseball instructional facility in Tyrone, to set up private lessons for her son. She had heard positive feedback about the Dugout Club from one of her son’s teammates who had taken lessons at the facility.

“I called the Dugout Club, which usually makes good players really good,” Kim Weathersby said. “This was a different type of situation. I just wanted my child to be able to hit the ball. Another child on Myles’ team had gone to the Dugout Club and recommended it. I called Scott Camp [the owner of the Dugout Club] and told him Myles is not your average kid who needs to be better.”

Said Myles: “I didn’t know what to think about going there.”

Camp was somewhat apprehensive about teaching Myles.

“I was a little nervous,” Camp said. “I was afraid we might not be able to help him because his vision was so limited. We just had to get him to track the ball.”

Despite not knowing how everything would play out, Camp accepted the challenge and went to work with Myles.

“We did a lot of one-handed drills and a walk-up drill, something we call a ‘Happy Gilmore’ swing,’” Camp said. “Myles was really tense when he came in here. We had to get him to loose that tension.”

Said Myles: “When I first started going to the Dugout Club, I was hitting off a tee. They wanted to get my swing level. They worked on my stance, and lobbed me the ball to get my timing right.”

Myles’ dedication to developing his swing paid off. Shortly thereafter, Myles accomplished his goal of getting a hit, but he didn’t settle for just one.

The game in which he got his first hit, Myles shocked everyone by going 3-for-3.

“It was really cool,” Myles said. “It was very exciting to hit the ball.”

His mother was ecstatic.

“We’re just so proud of him because he worked so hard,” Kim Weathersby said. “We wanted him to get a hit so he could fit in. Myles was proud of himself. And all the parents were saying, ‘What got into him?’”

Camp was elated when he received a phone call from Kim Weathersby informing him of Myles’ big day at the plate.

“I was at work when Kim called, and I was just so excited for Myles,” Camp said. “It’s a great feeling for a kid to get a hit, no matter what level it’s on. For Myles, it was like a big leaguer hitting a home run. I was very happy for him.

“He’s a good kid and a smart kid.”

Camp and the rest of the instructors at the Dugout Club were so proud of Myles that they gave him a wooden bat that has his name engraved in it — the bat was donated by Rick Behenna, co-owner of Striker Bat Company and an instructor at the Dugout Club — and a certificate commemorating his first hit.

“Getting the bat and stuff was a really unexpected thing to happen,” Myles said. “It’s the first time I had ever had anything happen like that. It was great.”

Kim Weathersby praised the teaching that her son received from Camp and Jason Tidwell, the two Dugout Club instructors who spent the most time working with Myles.

“Scott Camp and Jason Tidwell worked with Myles the most,” Kim said. “They did a great job of working with the mechanics of Myles’ swing and when he should swing the bat.”

Myles still enjoys playing baseball. He recently finished playing his third season of baseball in Fayette’s recreational league, and he is considering play fall ball this upcoming season.

“I just like to play the game and have fun,” Myles said. “I have met some great friends on my teams.”

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