MONTGOMERY – Valley Central High School senior Paul Laudati loves baseball.
He watches games every night, plays fantasy baseball and keeps track of his favorite teams’ stats on his phone.
He’s also been a member of Valley Central’s baseball team since freshman year, but ironically, his last VC home game of baseball was a night of “firsts.”
Paul lives with cerebral palsy, which impacts his ability to play ball. “My legs and muscles are much tighter than the other players,” Paul explained. “It’s harder to run as far or to hit as far as everyone else.”
On the May 18 home game, Paul was the first at bat in the first inning. He made a base hit on the first pitch to a chorus of cheers from his teammates, coach and community.
“Paul’s done a tremendous job on this team,” Coach Eric Bartle said. “He is constantly helping out. He’s a total baseball junkie. He attended [Valley Central youth baseball] camp when he was a kid and now he’s a counselor there. He’s a great person to have around and he’s as much a part of the team as any other member.”
When he’s not following baseball, he’s coaching it – and soccer too. Although sports are his biggest passion in life, he’s also recently discovered an affinity for the stock market and business in general and plays imaginary stocks. After graduation, he plans to attend Saint John’s University in Queens and study finance. And although Queens will be his new hometown, don’t expect to see him in orange and blue – he roots for the Yankees.
“I really have to thank my coaches, Coach Bartle and Coach Rosenberger for including me in the team and helping me out,” Paul said. “They’re both such great mentors, not just in baseball bur in life. None of this would be possible without them.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I am really going to miss him,” Mr. Bartle said. “He’s been an integral part of this team. He always jokes around and says he hopes I remember him. How could I ever forget him?”