Pitching more than just a baseball

Shortly before the Birmingham Barons and the Huntsville Stars started rounding the bases at Regions Field in Birmingham on Aug. 9, a North Shelby boy threw a pitch signifying much more than just the opening of a game.

Nine-year-old Gabe Griffin kicked the night off by winding back and rocketing a fastball from the pitcher’s mound to the waiting Barons catcher.

“He dadgum fires that ball!” Scott Griffin, Gabe’s father, told staff writer Caroline Carmichael during an interview last week. “It was a strike down the middle! It was a great moment.”

In that pitch, Gabe signified his family’s tenacious battle against their opposition: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare disease with which Gabe has been diagnosed.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects about one in every 3,500 boys, is a muscle-deteriorating disease typically passed down genetically. Victims are usually confined to a wheelchair by age 12, and are not expected to live far beyond the age of 20.

But Gabe and his family are fighting to beat the odds – not only for themselves, but for every child affected by the disease.

Gabe’s visit to Regions Field on Aug. 8 came during his cross-country bicycle journey from Oregon to Mobile known as Ride4Gabe, which kicked off in late June. Last weekend, Gabe and his entourage camped at Oak Mountain State Park and took rides through Shelby County before continuing southward to Mobile.

Throughout the weekend, several signs reading “Hope 4 Gabe” and “Gabe” lined the side of U.S. 31, showing support for the boy who has served as an inspiration for nearly everyone he has come in contact with.

We share the enthusiasm of those who were fortunate enough to see Gabe throw the first pitch at Regions Field on Aug. 8. He didn’t just throw a perfect strike, he delivered hope.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.