Saginaw Valley State University signs 5-year-old to baseball team

KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (03/20/18) - It's a little late in the season, but Saginaw Valley State University just signed a brand new baseball player.

You won't see James Peoples on the field much. Instead, he'll be in the dugout.

"He'll be our bat boy, you know. That's going to be his main job and you know chasing some balls to a back stop," said Chris Ebright, head coach of SVSU's baseball team.

James' position was made official as Ebright and James' mother, Sheree Peoples, signed the Letter of Intent on Tuesday.

Most baseball players make a team based on things like batting average and fielding percentage, but this Flint 5-year-old's stats are much different.

"Eight cycles of chemo, two stem cell transplants, 12 cycles of radiation," Sheree said.

James is fighting neuroblastoma, a form of cancer.

"I just feel blessed that I'm in the situation I'm in to learn from him, to help him," said Z Westley, a catcher with the team.

Boston-based Team IMPACT connects kids fighting serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams.

Sheree saw a flier about the program during one of James' treatments and reached out to the nonprofit. Team IMPACT connected the Peoples with SVSU.

Before the letter signing, Westley and other players had already spent some time with James at his home.

"Really what I'm learning from him is just courage and faith and just being able to battle through things," Westley said.

"He loves them. He actually told me, 'I love Derek and Z,'" Sheree said.

And while James was a little shy Tuesday with all the extra attention, his new role as bat boy and teammate means the world to his family.

"James has been through so much and I just wanted to give him, for being a fighter, something you know, I wanted to give this to him," Sheree said.

SVSU's first home game is scheduled for March 29. As long as James doesn't have any treatments, expect to see him at the diamond cheering on his team.

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