Myakka City's Landon Marazon thrives with a specially-made glove by Wilson Sporting Goods.
As the sun set on the Lakewood Ranch Little League baseball field and the lights took over, 10-year-old Landon Marazon crossed home plate with a run.
In a Minors division game played between Marazon's Audie Expo squad and opposing W.C. Branham, that run was worth the same as any other, and certainly wasn't any more or less special than the millions of runs scored on Little League baseball fields all across the country.
All as it should be.
Then again, those close to him know the story, that Landon had persevered through a horrible utility vehicle accident a year ago. The March 16, 2018 accident caused most of the Myakka City boy's left hand to be amputated.
Since that time, he has been fiercely independent, trying to prove through medical procedures and rehabilitation he is just one of the kids.
Proving it through baseball, though, didn't appear part of the equation. Before Landon took the field March 15, he admitted as much.
Somehow the cosmic forces collided just right to breathe life into his baseball dreams.
It was in mid-September when Landon went on his regular visit to the Hanger Clinic, which cares for amputees. There he had a meeting with his prosthetist, Dan Strzempka, who is well-known for being involved in the designing and development of the prosthetic tail for the dolphin Winter, who was featured in the movie, "Dolphin Tale."
Along with his parents, Daryl and Nickie Marazon, another man was in the room. That was Ryan Smith, the global product manager and senior designer for Wilson Sporting Goods.
Smith was sitting in his Chicago office a few weeks earlier when the Marazons made a plea through social media for help. One of the reasons Landon doubted he could return to the baseball field was he could effectively close a glove. Daryl and Nickie wondered if some kind of special glove could give him a fighting chance.
Smith just happened to see their plea, and he wanted to help.
He also just happened to be headed to Sarasota for a vacation.
"That was the No. 1 stroke of luck," Smith said. "Somebody has been looking out for this family."
However, when Smith saw the remaining portion of Landon's left hand at the Hanger Clinic, he was worried. "I thought, 'Oh boy, I don't know what we can do.'"
Strzempka took over, telling Smith he could make a mold of Landon's hand. Smith had Landon show him how he could move his hand and took notes about what he could do.
The mold was sent to Smith in Chicago and he met with his production staff. Early in March, Landon had a specially-made glove that has allowed him to squeeze the ball using very little pressure.
The Marazons said it was the most amazing thing that has happened to them since the accident, and that's saying something because they said they have had a "village of support."
Smith knew the glove would be put to good use.
"What impressed me was his attitude toward everything," Smith said of Landon. "He was very positive, and for a kid that age, it was great to see. He wanted to keep playing baseball.
"These are the kind of projects that are the coolest thing I get to do. I can give back to these kids. He is on a scholarship with us for as long as he plays baseball."
Once Landon decided to play, he had to be picked up by a Minors team. That wasn't a worry since the Marazons said league president David Bay has been there every step of the way.
Audie Expo manager Matt Martin selected him immediately. "Nobody works harder than that kid," Martin said. "He knows he has to. Players everywhere could learn something from him."
Martin plays Landon at first base, center field, pitcher and even catcher.
"Part of the realization is that he isn't going to play shortstop," Martin said. "He can get the ball out fast enough."
But Martin said he could see Landon being a first baseman or outfielder at a higher level, or even pitch if he strengthens his right arm.
Nickie Marazon said it has been a highlight for her just to see her son back on the field.
She said Landon has faced challenges, such as feeling comfortable again as a Myakka City Elementary School fourth-grader.
"Before the accident, he was the center of attention," she said. "But when he came back, people didn't know what he could or couldn't do. They didn't initiate anything or ask him to play."
Nickie said the school's staff did a great job explaining to the students he was just another normal kid. "They told them 'don't be afraid to ask him to play kickball.'"
Daryl Marazon was forced to face another challenge when Landon wanted to begin riding utility vehicles again. He relented and is like any parent just making sure his son follows good riding practices.
"He plays video games, rides four wheelers, plays baseball," Daryl Marazon said. "He does everything with his hand. Eventually, he wants to play ice hockey or football."
For now, baseball is just right.
"There is a new normal for us," Nickie said. "He goes to the doctor once a week. He goes to the surgeon every three months."
But it's normal again for Landon to score runs in a game with and against his peers.
"I've had a couple of strikeouts," Landon said. "But I am doing good."
His teammates agree.
"We have known each other since the accident," said his teammate, Christian Miceli. "He is very special. He is doing awesome."
His coach quickly chimed in.
"Nobody gives him special treatment," Martin said. "He is just another glove."
Martin then smiled.
"But not really."