Vargas serves as baseball bat boy, motivates team

Abby Siu, Staff Writer

Jack Vargas (11) run out of the field with his teammates before the baseball game against Sage Creek High School. Photo by Abby Klubeck.

Before the start of every varsity baseball game, all the players form a huddle for some final words of encouragement from Jack Vargas (11).

“This is our team,” Vargas said as the team all listened to his words. “This is our moment to bring it on strong. We’re here for all these fans out there, and this is our field—we will win it all.”

The team gathered their hands in the middle of the huddle for one last cheer before running out across their home field March 8, 2022, marking the start of the start of the game.

Vargas, who holds the position of bat boy for the varsity baseball team, was recruited to the job during his freshman year. Hitting coach Caleb Allen saw Vargas, who has Down Syndrome, practicing playing baseball at the amphitheater field. Allen recognized Vargas’ passion for the game and suggested that he try out for the baseball team.

“We met with [Allen] and explained that Jack has impeccable timing and looks like he is an amazing ball player,” Vargas’ mother, Amy Vargas, said. “Truth is that it’s different from baseball. He is limited in his ‘intake.’”

Even so, Allen tried to figure out a way to include Jack on the baseball team. After talking it over with the varsity baseball team, they figured out that Jack made a good bat boy, a role he has held ever since.

“[My favorite part about baseball is that] you get to be part of a team and help them out,” Jack said.

As a bat boy, Vargas retrieves the players’ bats after they hit and brings them back into the dugout.

“It’s amazing,” Amy said. “He’s so passionate about it. The other boys’ parents cheer him on too. Everyone is so supportive. Some of the parents have told me how great Jack is for the team.”

One of the many ways being how Vargas adds to the mood of the team.

The guys love when Jack is around, since he’s a part of the team,” Simpson said. It’s not the same when he’s not there. The last couple of years, he’s become more comfortable around the team and is a fixture at the field.” 

In addition to his duties on the team, Vargas adds to the team spirit with his enthusiasm, according to Heidrick-Barnes.

“He has this speech every day, and I think it brings the team together,” outfielder Tyler Wanless (12) said. “He always hypes us all up, and even during the game he’s always like, ‘let’s go guys, we got this!’ He’s always just really able to bring the team together.”

If the varsity baseball team has a good game, he’ll go home, talking all about what happened. Especially when someone made a good pitch or hit a “dinger.”

Not only does Vargas support the team, but the team also supports him. Vargas has played   Challenger Division with Rancho Penasquitos Little League (RPLL) since he was 5, and sometimes some of the players on the varsity baseball team attend his RPLL games.

“He was up to bat and he got a pretty good hit, and he got to run around all of the bases,” Wanless said. “The whole varsity team was able to show up that day, so we all got together and we all celebrated with him, and he had the biggest smile on his face.”

Special education teacher Meg Heidrick-Barnes said she believes that not every school would be as inclusive and accepting of Vargas, considering these acts as the “best part of humanity.”

“I would say that it’s inclusion at its finest,” Heidrick-Barnes said. “The best place for students to be and to learn is when they’re with their peers, doing things that they enjoy, [and] for Jack, the thing he loves the most is baseball.”

This idea is played out whenever Vargas bumps into one of his teammates in the hallways, they always give him a high-five. Vargas said that these day to day interactions make him happy.

On the field, when someone hits a good ball, Vargas said that he runs to the players, jumping to do a back bump with each other.

Seeing Jack included with the team makes me happy, not just for Jack, but it makes me happy for our school, for Westview, for his family, for our community, for the future, for the team, on so many different levels,” Heidrick-Barnes said. “When people are included, the impact is that widespread. Whenever I’m with people and they get down about the state of the world, I’m like, if [Westview’s students] are in charge, I think we’re gonna be okay.