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The father of the 9-year-old bat boy who died after being struck in the head by a bat said he wants the program his child participated in to continue despite his son’s tragic accident.
“This shouldn't be taken away from any other kids, the opportunity to be able to do this. This is something I think should stick around,” Chad Carlile told NBC News in his first sit-down interview. “There might be a better way to do things, yes, but this bat boy thing is tremendous for kids and youth.”
Carlile’s son, Kaiser, was accidentally struck in the head with a baseball bat last Saturday during a practice swing from a player warming up near the on-deck circle for the Liberal Bee Jays. The boy, who was wearing a helmet at the time, was rushed to the hospital but died the next day.
The National Baseball Congress suspended using bat boys and bat girls after that game, and Kaiser’s death immediately struck a nerve with the nation.
“It makes me proud to know my son was able to touch peoples' lives like this,” Carlile said. “You raise your kid to do his best, but we never dreamed it would be at this magnitude.”
The boy’s funeral was tentatively scheduled for Sunday, but his dad says it depends on how the team fares since there’s no way it would be held on a day the team could not attend. Kaiser, he said, meant so much more to the team than a bat boy.
“Fist pumps, high fives. He was the spark plug, like they say, for the team,” said Carlile, who wants his son remembered for how the boy lived rather than how he died. “The glow that my son had was something I had never seen. He loved this.”
The Liberal Bee Jays have been doing what they can to help the Carlile family. At Tuesday’s game, Kaiser’s younger sister threw out the first pitch. The team also observed a moment of silence for Kaiser.
“Kaiser will always hold a special place in my heart," said Bee Jays infielder Brady Cox. "I'll never step foot on a field and not think of him."
Kaiser’s legacy already has been felt, thanks to his parents donating the boy’s organ to help the lives of two other children.
“It’s not that hard a decision to make when you know that he is on that final thread and there's two other kids that are going to live forever because of that,” he said. “It kind of makes your life a little easier.”