Ander Mason is blazing his own trail as an 8-year-old baseball player for the La Costa Canyon Rockies Little League team.
The Carlsbad native was born with a complex heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is a severe congenital heart defect that malforms the left ventricle of the heart. The Center for Disease Control says it effects about one of every 4,000 births each year.
Mason says he enjoys the games a lot more, and quite frankly, it’s surprising he can play baseball at all.
“The doctors told us initially that he would have cerebral palsy, and he would need a lifetime of care, he’d be in a wheelchair and wouldn’t be able to button his shirt, let alone play sports,” father and coach Austin Mason said.
Ander needed three open-heart surgeries at birth, and then later a fourth. During that time, he also suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot.
“We’ve spent probably I want to say in totality almost a year in the hospital, so a year of a young kid’s life,” Austin said.
Even after that, doctors gave Ander a grim prognosis, leading to a lot of uncertainty.
“I didn’t really know if he couldn’t do something or could do something, which was maybe a good thing. We ended up going off to baseball because it’s tougher for him to run continuously and stay up with other kids,” Austin said.
And Ander took to the game immediately, especially the hitting.
“He swings super hard, like spins himself into circles, sometimes swinging so hard. He always brings lots of energy with his at-bats. It’s a fun sight to watch,” coach Jesse Jordan said.
Other than the scar on his chest, Ander blends in seamlessly with the rest of his Rockies teammates. But his dad hopes that others will take notice.
”I remember thinking, ‘Are there kids out there with my kid’s heart defect that have gone through it and been successful?’ And there weren’t a lot of examples, but he is one of them. So if there are parents out there that are looking for what their kid can do with a congenital heart defect, he is a good example,” Austin said.
A good example that anything is possible, and how much fun an 8-year-old can have playing baseball.