Little League says goodbye to No. 7 (with photo gallery)

Members of the Rotterdam Little League will never again wear the number seven.

Members of the Rotterdam Little League will never again wear the number seven.

The number was retired Sunday in honor of Tyler DeMarco, the 12-year-old boy who inspired the entire Little League community with his courageous battle with cancer.

“Never in the league’s 61-year history has a number ever been retired,” said Tony LaRue, DeMarco’s former coach. “That changes today.”

DeMarco died in February of medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer in children, which he was diagnosed with four years earlier.

LaRue coached DeMarco for most of the seven seasons he played Little League baseball.

“He has touched so many of these families, and he probably doesn’t even realize it,” he said.

Those families lined the baselines of the Broadway field Sunday to honor DeMarco and his family.

Players and other participants were given blue and white balloons that were released into the sky, music was played and DeMarco’s parents and brother, Ryan, were given Tyler’s number seven jersey in a frame.

Despite his illness, DeMarco played as much baseball as he could, sometimes having chemotherapy treatments in the morning and attending practice at night.

“He really just wanted to be a boy,” LaRue said.

LaRue said DeMarco never asked why he was dealt such a tough hand. He kept trying to overcome his illness. His determination and never-give-up attitude, especially, inspired a group of 9- and 10-year-old players on last summer’s state championship team.

The team dedicated their season to DeMarco and traveled to the state championships with a banner that read, “Hurry home, Tyler, Rotterdam needs you.” The team members used to gather around the sign and say a short prayer before each game.

The team came from behind to overcome a three-run deficit in the last inning to win the championship game.

“We knew we had to do it for Tyler,” Luke Pasacarella, 11, a member of the state championship team, said.

Family members said they were moved by the tribute and thankful to have the support of so many in the community.

“It means a lot to the family and I know it means a lot to me,” Chad Grant, 16, a student at Mohonasen High School and DeMarco’s cousin, said.

Michael Hyrney of Duanesburg, also a cousin of DeMarco’s, said he thought the tribute was “beautiful” and was surprised that the league decided to retire DeMarco’s number.

Donnie DeMarco, Tyler’s father, said his son had a way of drawing people to him. He said Tyler didn’t say much, but when he did speak, something either funny or profound would come out of his mouth.

DeMarco was what his father called “a quiet competitor,” participating in a variety of sports and activities besides baseball, including bowling, ping pong and chess.

The DeMarcos are in the process of setting up a foundation in Tyler’s name to raise money for medulloblastoma research. In the meantime, donations made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital under the tribute account number 25678042 will go specifically toward finding a cure for the cancer.

Categories: Schenectady County

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