Gantt’s success gives GJ boy hope for future

Six-year-old Jayden Maes, left, shows Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College’s Marty Gantt his right hand, which doesn’t have fully formed fingers, after Wednesday’s game. Maes was inspired by Gantt’s successful tournament and the fact Gantt also doesn’t have fully formed fingers on his right hand.

Marty Gantt may be leaving Grand Junction today, but he’s departing after impressing fans at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series and winning the heart of one little boy and his family.

Six-year-old Jayden Maes, like Gantt, was born without fully formed fingers on his right hand. Surgery straightened the three fingers he does have and helped close the gap between them.

Just like Gantt, Jayden loves baseball.

The two met Wednesday after Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College was eliminated from the tournament.

The Maes family learned about Gantt from reading an article in Wednesday’s Daily Sentinel and asked to meet the player. Spartanburg coach Tim Wallace was more than happy to arrange it, and Jayden was given a baseball by the JUCO Committee, which Gantt signed, as well as a copy of the article.

“Where’s Marty?” Jayden said, scanning Suplizio Field for his new favorite player.

Marty was still doing interviews after his three-home run game in a 15-12 loss to Santa Fe (Fla.) College.

When asked how he liked watching Gantt play, Jayden looked up and said, “He had a lot of home runs.”

When they were introduced, Jayden quickly stuck up his right hand to show Gantt his fingers.

“I got ’em too,” Gantt said, showing Jayden his right hand and shook Jayden’s hand.

“You two can nub up,” Wallace said. “That’s pretty unique.”

Gantt showed Jayden how to “nub up,” their own version of bumping fists.

“You like baseball, Jayden? I appreciate you coming to the game today,” Gantt said.

Unlike Gantt, Jayden is right-handed, using his middle finger to grip a baseball. He played Tee-ball last summer and was good enough to move up in Little League, but he’s still too young, so he’s sitting out this season.

Jayden will be in first grade at Thunder Mountain Elementary School in the fall, and like Gantt, he’s been teased about his hand.

“Not long ago a boy made fun of him and he told me,” his mother, Geraldine, said. “I asked him, ‘How did he make you feel?’ And he said, ‘mmm, not very good, but I can still pop him.’

“He’s got a really good personality to overcome this. Sure he’s going to get hurt, but at least he knows how to handle it.”

Jayden’s older brother, Aaryn, 12, and sister, Alexanndra, 10, were also at the game and the entire family posed for pictures with Gantt, who hoisted Jayden up to his shoulder as the little boy grinned from ear to ear.

“He can hold the bat and throw,” Jayden’s father, Andy, said. “It’s never really been an issue. Once in a while the kids will get on him for that.

“He plays soccer, he watches his brother play and does all the same stuff. It really hasn’t held him back.”


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