LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL: White fields every challenge while inspiring others

By the time Braxton White turned 12 years old, he had already been around baseball for nine years.

He started off as a tee-ball player and worked his way through different leagues within the Odessa Youth Baseball Association.

White is playing in his first year of travel ball with the West Texas Rockies and has done it all while essentially playing the game with one arm.

Braxton’s mother, Courtney White, said there was no diagnosis when her son was born with his left arm shorter than his right.

Doctors first believed his arm didn’t develop due to amniotic band syndrome, a rare birth condition.

It was later determined that it wasn’t the cause but it didn’t stop Braxton White from becoming a multi-sport athlete along with his brothers.

“He’s the type of kid who figures it out on his own,” Courtney White said. “He’s easy to coach because he teaches himself, but he’ll also follow any direction that the coaches give him.”

Baseball is not the only sport that Braxton White competes in. He’s shown his versatility as a football, basketball and tennis player.

As his life has progressed, Braxton White has taught himself ways to adjust his game when he is wearing a baseball uniform.

The changes include switching to batting from the left side of the plate as opposed to the right after discovering he had more power batting left-handed.

He also taught himself how to switch his glove over when he is fielding, a technique similar to that of former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott who played the game with one hand.

Courtney White said her son connected with Abbott when he was a first grader and focused a biography project on the 10-year major league pitcher.

After Braxton White presented a video report dressed up as Abbott, his grandmother contacted a representative for the pitcher and notified him of the project.

Abbott went on to send the first grader an autographed photo, a copy of his book and a personalized letter.

“I got really excited, I didn’t think that would happen because he was in the major leagues,” Braxton White said. “I got really lucky.”

The 12-year-old described Abbott as one of the influences on his game along with Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo.

Courtney White believes baseball and other sports are having a positive effect on her sons because they present an outlet to release any pent-up emotions they may be holding in.

Braxton White, 12, poses for a photo Tuesday afternoon at UTPB’s Roden Baseball Field. White was born without his left forearm and plays various other sports including basketball, football and tennis. Braxton also wears the jersey number 27 as a tribute to his father Brooks who passed away in 2019 from an unexpected heart attack at 39. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

Sports helped the family through one of its toughest moments two years ago when Joe Brooks White II, Braxton’s father, died of an unexpected heart attack.

The loss left a considerable void in the boys’ lives and they still honor their father with their actions today.

Braxton currently wears the No. 27 with the Rockies, the same number his father wore when he was an athlete.

In the future, the young baseball player hopes he can carve out a spot for himself in the majors.

Although he doesn’t have a set position he would hope to play as a professional, he wants to put in as much playing time as he possibly can.

Back in June, Braxton White got to experience some of the top competition college baseball has to offer after the Rockies played in the 2021 Omaha SlumpBuster tournament in Nebraska.

The team also attended a College World Series game between Vanderbilt and Arizona at TD Ameritrade Park.

Courtney White described the experience as one of the highlights of her son’s trip to Omaha and believes that her son’s future is bright and endless.

“He can do whatever he puts his mind to,” she said. “He’s not limited in any way.”

Throughout his young career, Braxton White has built a reputation for being a coachable athlete with the will and determination to uplift the rest of his team.

He has already established himself as a leader and one of the Rockies’ fastest base runners and his coaches will refer to him as “Coach Braxton” because of his tendency to call out plays from first base.

Braxton White’s consistently positive attitude was rewarded when he was given the first Joe Griffith Sportsmanship Award after his time in Jim Parker Little League.

His mother said a lot of people forget her son is playing with one arm because he doesn’t let it hinder him or get in his way.

“He’s an inspiration to everybody that he comes across, me included,” Courtney White said. “He overcomes any obstacle and there’s not anything he can’t do.”

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya