Born with a cleft lip and palate, and living with joint issues, elite high school athlete prevails to play at Busch Stadium
Meet Andrew Range. The 18-year-old third baseman "is a little overwhelmed right now", according to his mom, Traci. What's to be overwhelmed about? Andrew, just off a great senior season at Triad High School in Troy, IL, is getting ready to go to Truman State University on a baseball and academic scholarship. He was also just chosen to play in the PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase, a Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star game in its 3rd year. On the roster with 49 other high school standouts from both sides of the river, Andrew's beginnings were a little more uncertain than most.
"He was born about 6 weeks early with a cleft lip and palate, and had his first of 14 surgeries at 3 months old," says his mom. Because clefts affect the eyes, ears, nose and throat, Andrew had multiple surgeries, including a bone graft to his gum line. Thanks to the doctors and Cleft Palate Clinic at St. Louis Children's hospital, he came through and kept going. And he kept playing baseball. "I think he was born with a ball in his hand," laughs Traci. "I guess he's been playing since he was 3," she says.
In addition to the cleft lip and palate, Andrew's also experienced joint problems that his mom says are hereditary. One issue has caused his kneecaps to move around and very painfully slide over his joint. That has added two more operations--one in the summer of 2010 and one in the summer of 2011--to his count. "He got a little discouraged, but he did his therapy, battled through, and had a great senior season," says his proud mom.
Andrew's talent and commitment to baseball, coupled with his drive through all the adversity, have moved him through t-ball, to select ball to high school, and now on to Busch Stadium and Truman State.