This season, Jesse Bixler, a high school senior, has been in the dugout for his team, the Warrior Run Defenders baseball team. Bixler, 17, was a star pitcher for the team and was badly burned in an accident in August.
He and his father were working on a farm when a tool ignited a gas tank. There was an explosion and fire. Bixler and his father were critically injured.
“Still doing the therapy, but it feels good to come to a baseball game afterwards, be in the dugout,” said Bixler at the team’s home game Thursday night.
After months in a coma and several surgeries, Bixler returned home and to his team. He has loved and played baseball since he was a little boy.
Family and friends said just being back with his teammates is a miracle.
“It’s been a tough journey but he’s a tough kid and he’s hanging in there and doing his best and has a lot of support,” said Cassie Bixler, Jesse’s mom.
“Jesse’s just a great kid and I’m not surprised he pulled through it. He has a lot of character. Baseball-wise he would have been out there on the mound. He would have been their number one pitcher, but that was secondary to seeing Jesse pull through this,” said Mike Campbell, one of Jesse’s former coaches.
After the fire, the community rallied around the Bixlers. There are bracelets, which read “Fix Bix” for Jesse and his dad, who is also recovering.
On the back of the baseball team’s hats, are Jesse’s initials.
“He’s a good country boy, you know? He’s raised on a farm, and he’s tough. I remember thinking a couple of years ago as we were raising him to be a pitcher, a very good pitcher we kept telling him to be a bulldog, be tough and what he’s been through this year, man, he’s a lot tougher than I would have been,” said Pierce Wilson, coach of the Warrior Run varsity baseball team.
“It’s just good to be down here with the baseball team and hanging out with your friends and watching the game,” said Jesse.
Jesse must still undergo more surgeries and rehabilitation, but he will be attending prom and his high school graduation next month.