Bigger than baseball

Xavier Clafee, an 8-year-old battling a rare heart disease, officially joined the Charlotte baseball team

| April 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

Jackson Mims and Xavier Clafee stretch before practice. Photo by Chris Crews.

Disney isn’t the only place that makes dreams come true. This week, the Charlotte 49ers baseball program turned one kid’s dream into a reality.

8-year-old Xavier Clafee is battling Truncus Arteriosus, which is a rare form of heart disease. With the help of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, he was brought to the 49ers. The foundation’s goal is to better the life of children who are battling diseases and cancers.

Although he is young in age, Xavier has already had three open-heart surgeries and four heart catheterizations. During his last surgery in July, a device was placed in his heart that will grow with Xavier, meaning no more surgeries for at least seven years.

Xavier came out Wednesday afternoon and signed with the program officially. He was presented with Charlotte baseball t-shirts, a hat, and a jersey, along with other 49er swag. After joining the program, Xavier went down to the field, met his new teammates and participated in his first practices.

The Niners lost to in-state foe UNC 14-2 the night before Xavier signed, the sting of the loss was quickly replaced by players being grateful for simply their opportunity to be on a baseball field.

“The word I would put for it is just perspective. It gives us a great perspective on how lucky we are to come out here and play every day,” Jackson Mims said.

When asked what position he would want to play, Xavier quickly responded with third base.

Wanting to size up the competiton, third basemen Mims quickly took Xavier under his wing.

The two were seen side-by-side during the warm-up stretches, playing a game of catch, and when Xavier was taking his first swings with the bat.

Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs welcomed Xavier into the 49er family and said he set a good example for his players.

“I think we all realize and we all understand that we are blessed to be able to be out here and be able to do what we’re doing,” Hibbs said. “When a young man like Xavier comes around here and gets a chance to be in our program and see and hear the struggles that he’s had in his very short lifetime in the eight years he’s been on this earth, it makes you appreciate everything.”

Prior to his surgery in July, Xavier couldn’t entertain the idea of playing sports. Now, with oxygen flowing easier throughout his body, Xavier can explore the athletic world. His father, Xavier Clafee, said that while he is still learning about the sport, he’s all in.

“He’s one of those kids, like, when you say something to him, it’s tunnel vision. When we said baseball, team, meet your coaches, for the last three days it has been nothing but let the sheer focus and tunnel vision on the act of what baseball is,” Clafee said.

Xavier has an open invitation for any 49er baseball activity, including practices, meetings and games.


Photos by Chris Crews.

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Category:Baseball, Sports

Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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