New Jersey boy, 10, playing baseball again after stroke, brain surgery | News Coverage from USA

New Jersey boy, 10, playing baseball again after stroke, brain surgery

BEDFORD HILLS, N.J. – Rocky Serrano Jr. is just glad to be playing baseball again.

Less than a year after suffering a brain hemorrhage that caused a stroke and left him unable to use the left side of his body, the 10-year-old returned to the field for the first time Saturday for opening day at Bedford Hills-Katonah Little League.

Serrano, wearing eye black and wristbands, fired in a strike during the ceremonial first pitch.

The road back to baseball has not been easy.

Just 9 at the time, Serrano woke up with a “terrible headache” on July 1, 2018, but still ran a normal temperature. His parents took him to Westchester (New Jersey) Medical Center, where they were told their son had ruptured an arteriovenous malformation – a rare congenital condition where veins are tangled in the brain – and to prepare for the worst.

Doctors told the Serranos that a rupture was inevitable sometime between the ages of 10 and 40.

“At any point it was going to rupture, but it decided to rupture that day,” Rocky Serrano Sr. said. “We never heard it until it happened. The day this all happened, I had no idea what was going on. I was scared out of my mind.”

Rocky Jr. spent the next month preparing for surgery at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Following a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove the AVM, he spent the next 10 days in the intensive care unit.

In the fight for his life, “Little Rock,” as his father calls him, told his parents he “just wanted to be normal again.”

“Knowing he was facing brain surgery, this was really scary because when you’re dealing with a brain injury, you don’t know what way things can go,” the elder Serrano said. “We thank God we’re here today.”

“I’m really proud of my son,” he added. “Honestly, I don’t think I could’ve dealt with it the way he did.”

Rocky Jr. was able to resume his education the following school year. After five months, he was able to return to Bedford Hills Elementary School.

During his rehabilitation, the New York Mets took an interest in Rocky’s story. The Mets hosted the Serrano family for a game in September, where Rocky Jr. met infielder Todd Frazier, former closer John Franco and Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez. The team sent him a get-well message, as did Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza. The Mets also sent Rocky Jr. a care package featuring team paraphernalia when he returned home.

“I loved the Mets before all this, and now this? It’s just amazing,” Marivel Serrano, Rocky Jr.’s mother, said. “They’re so down to earth, and they do so much – not only for (Rocky Jr.), but for other kids, too.”

“They kind of pushed him to get better,” she said.

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Before the start of the Little League ceremony on Saturday, the Mets had one more surprise for Rocky Jr.

Pete Alonso, the Mets’ rookie slugger and Rocky Jr.’s favorite player, sent him a message that he was able to watch on his father’s phone.

“No, that’s not Pete Alonso, is it?” Rocky Jr. asked his dad, who had his arm around his son.

Within seconds, Rocky Jr. dropped his glove to the ground in shock.

Of all the gifts the family has received over the past year, the one they are most thankful for is Rocky Jr.’s recovery and health.

“Every day is a blessing,” Marivel Serrano said. “He’s here. When they told us at the hospital, ‘He’s in critical condition, you guys have to prepare yourself,’ you don’t want to expect the worst, but you have to be ready.”

While putting on his jersey Saturday morning, Rocky Jr. said he was overcome with emotions.

“I was feeling like I was going to hit a shot or something,” he said with a chuckle. “I didn’t really know what was going to happen today – not like this craziness right here – but I’m just excited to play baseball.”

Twitter: @Zacchio_LoHud

 

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