DALLAS – The Dallas Baptist University baseball team is filled with talented players and leaders in the dugout. But their inspiration stems from a young man in the stands. His name is Benjamin Landrey and his impact extends well beyond the baseball diamond.
After every home game, win or lose, one thing never changes: Benjamin breaks the huddle and says farewell to his teammates.
“He’s been such an amazing blessing to this team. It’s such a good thing to put into perspective when you see him after every game. Like Blayne said, 'Win or lose, he’s there,'” DBU pitcher Cole Reeves said.
“It really shows us that there’s more than baseball in life,” said DBU infielder Blayne Jones. “God works in mysterious ways. We are grateful that he comes out and shows us what life really is.”
Benjamin’s life early on was just like any other kid. In fact, he played baseball and was a great player himself. But one day after a game, his coach approached his mom with some concerns.
“He said [Benjamin] is just not seeing eye to eye with us,” Benjamin’s mother, Kelley, said. “We don’t know what’s going on. He just wasn’t very alert."
One week later, doctors found a tumor in Benjamin’s brain. He was diagnosed with medulloblastoma at 5 years old.
“That was the most heart-wrenching thing a parent could ever go through,” said Benjamin’s father, Mark. “The doctors brought us into a room and sat us down, then they didn’t say nothing to us. Just said sorry. Then all of a sudden they said he has a brain tumor and your heart sinks.”
After eight months of chemotherapy and radiation, Benjamin was declared cancer free. But that freedom came with a price. Due to the treatment’s side effects, he lost his eyesight and his hearing.
“As a mom, it was hard to explain that reality,” Kelley said. “I would cry often. I’d be happy, I’d be sad. But you know what? We’ve never given up.”
It’s a family affair at the ballpark. But Benjamin’s favorite part?
“I really like it because I get to see when I’m going to play with those guys sometime,” he said.
“We got connected with his mom, called her up and we couldn’t be happier to have him be a part of our program,” said DBU head coach Dan Heefner. “It’s been like 10 years now."
“I think this will go on forever,” Kelley said with a laugh. “He might be 30 years old still cheering DBU on. He might be a senior citizen cheering DBU on.”
“He’s an inspiration to everybody,” Mark said. “Whoever meets Benjamin, he’s an inspiration. You’ll never forget him. You never do.”
And no one ever will.