By PEYTON KLAM, BLAKELY DIMIERO , Vandegrift Voice
After seasons of waiting, Vandegrift senior Chris Lucido got his first plate appearance for the Viper varsity baseball team, which starts playoffs this week.
“I took some swings in practice and before the game (on April 7),” Lucido said. “I missed some pitches, but I got some good hits.”
Lucido has been the batboy on varsity for four years. It was a special moment for the team to see him step up to the plate before his senior year comes to an end.
“It was really cool because Chris works so hard as our batboy,” senior Garrett Moore said. “To see him finally get an at-bat and a hit was awesome.”
Lucido was the lead off batter when the Vipers faced Hyde Park. He started the game with a four base hit.
“I was really excited,” Lucido said. “I felt like Big Papi (David Ortiz; retired Red Sox player) running around the bases.”
Lucido is a key part of the team that will play their first bi-district round game against San Antonio’s Ronald Reagan HS Rattlers on Wednesday, May 2 at Venom Field 7 p.m. The second game will be Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. in San Antonio. The third game, if needed, will be back at VHS on Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m.
As batboy, Lucido is very involved with the baseball team, forming close friendships. He attends every team dinner, practices, and each varsity game played.
He has a lot of support from his friends and family, especially from the baseball team.
“He was able to finally get a first-hand experience of the game he loves so much,” sophomore Trey Mongauzy said. “The team had lots of joy and excitement.”
Lucido was diagnosed with epilepsy as a 3-year-old and later diagnosed with an intellectual disability, which made the moment even more special.
“To see the smile on his face while he was rounding the bases,” Lucido’s mom, Barbara Lucido, said. “It’s just priceless. The other players were all waiting at home plate to congratulate him on his ‘home run.’”
She added that the day was bittersweet because it was her late husband’s birthday. Chet played baseball as a catcher in high school and Chris has one of his dad’s mitts on his dresser.
She points out that the VHS baseball team has embraced her son above and beyond what she could ever imagine.
“They have done so much more than just let him be the batboy,” Barbara said. “They have been true role models on how to be responsible for a job, be a good teammate, learn to handle the ups and downs of life, be respectful to everyone you meet, and they cut up and have fun on and off the field.”
Barbara added that the team gave Chris the opportunity to be part of something that will be with him as he goes onto his next chapter. He has applied to a program at both University of Texas and Texas A&M University that is tailored to special needs adults. It is a full-year program that teaches students to live independently and gives them the skills to become a personal care attendant.
For now though, Chris is enjoying playoffs with his Viper baseball team.
“I like my team around me on the baseball team,” Chris Lucido said. “We dab and we have a really good time, I like being on varsity baseball.”
Lynette Haaland contributed to this article.