KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The National Baseball Congress suspended using batboys and girls during its World Series games in Kansas following the death of a 9-year-old boy who was accidentally hit in the head with a bat during a game.
Kaiser Carlile died Sunday, a day after he was hit by a follow-through swing near the on-deck circle during the Liberal Bee Jays' game in Wichita. The boy was wearing a helmet.
During an emotional news conference Monday, Kaiser was remembered as an energetic, happy boy who loved being part of the Bee Jays. Manager Adam Anderson and several players said he inspired them to always work hard, have fun and win.
"I can't get over how hard he worked, and he was having fun doing it," said outfielder Gavin Wehby, who plays for Nicholls State. "I was blessed to have called him a friend, a teammate and most of all a brother."
The NBC's general manager, Kevin Jenks, said Kaiser would be honored throughout the tournament until the championship game Saturday. The honors will include having the boy's initials on the scoreboard marquee and fundraisers for his family during the games. The team also is wearing wristbands and T-shirts with Kaiser's initials.
Kaiser's father, Chad Carlile, said his son was competitive but also just loved the game of baseball. He said Kaiser cherished a pair of shoes and a white bracelet the team had given him. He said his son's organs will be donated.
"There is no anger towards what happened," he said. "This is something that was obviously a tragedy. I want no bad comments ... He was happy. He loved it and the team we are obviously for loved him as well."
The tournament has been in Wichita since 1931 and this is the first time such a situation has occurred, Jenks said.
"We have over 900 participants coming into the World Series every year," Jenks said. "You never expect anything like this to happen."
The Bee Jays played and won after Kaiser was hurt Saturday night and won again on Sunday, making it to the semifinals. His parents attended Sunday's game and supported the team's decision to continue playing "because they know that's what Kaiser would want us to do," Anderson said.
Anderson said the death has hit his teammates hard. He said the team has been comforted by support from across the country and the world and its staying together to cope with the loss.
"My biggest message to them is nobody is going through this alone," Anderson said. "We're here to support each other and support Kaiser's family. This is not one person's burden to bear. We'll have to bear it together."
The city of Wichita owns Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, where the accident took place, and is deciding whether to investigate the accident, Ken Evans, the city's strategic communications director.
Third baseman Brady Cox, who plays for Texas-Arlington, said he will always remember Kaiser encouraging him even when Cox was having a bad day on the field. He recalled one game when the boy was in the dugout even though he didn't feel well and encouraged Cox not to feel bad after he had gone 0-for-2. In his next bat, Cox hit a homerun.
"He changed my attitude on the game," Cox said. "I'll never pick up a baseball and not think of that ... I'll always remember him saying 'It's all right, you've got more bats left. I'll never step on the field without thinking of him."