Jacoby Catanzaro loves baseball.
Danvers Little League helped make his dream of playing the game come true.
The Danvers National 8-and-9-year-olds recently won the Manchester-Essex District 15 Invitational recently, and Catanzaro played a big role. He took the mound in the championship game, a 4-2 victory over Middleton. The nine-year old southpaw also had a couple of big hits in that game, and previously pitched the opening game of the tournament, an 11-3 win over Hamilton-Wenham.
What makes this a truly amazing story is that the youngster, who has severe medical problems, was able to successfully make the enormous leap from the Challenger program to a standard Little League team a year ago.
Catanzaro showed such talent and made so much progress that he was chosen for the all-star squad this summer, where he once again excelled despite all of the obstacles the youngster from Gloucester has had to overcome to be able to compete.
The fact that he is able to play defies all expectations doctors had for this special youngster, who continues to beat all odds.
Two years ago Catanzaro began playing baseball in the Challenger program in Danvers, where youngsters with physical and mental limitations are able to enjoy the game of baseball. Calvin Mansfield was assigned to be his “Buddy”, and the two hit it off immediately.
“Calvin was fantastic, and Jacoby looked forward to having his help at the games,” said David Catanzaro, his father. “Jacoby had just started to like sports and was involved in Special Olympics. He had fun playing in a soccer program, then we found out about the Danvers Challenger program from some of the other parents. We weren’t sure he could do it, but he loved it.
“We never thought he would be able to play regular baseball, but Karen Devaney — who runs the Challenger program — worked hard to make his dream come true. I can’t say enough about people like Karen, who do so many kind things behind the scenes. What she has done to make this possible is nothing short of a miracle. It flies under the radar.”