-- Players on a Kansas baseball team are mourning the tragic death of Kaiser Carlile, their 9-year-old bat boy, who died after he was accidentally struck by a bat during a game.
"Kaiser will always hold a special place in my heart," Brady Cox, one of the players with the Liberal Bee Jays summer team in Liberal, Kansas, said through tears at a news conference today.
Cox recalled a day he was having a bad day on the field, and Kaiser made him feel better despite being sick. Cox said looking at Kaiser's smile put everything in perspective.
He also thanked Kaiser's family for "blessing" the team with him.
Kaiser was accidentally struck by a bat during the Liberal Bee Jays' Saturday afternoon's game, the team's President Nathan McCaffrey said. He was wearing a helmet, McCaffrey said.
Kaiser was hospitalized in critical condition and then died Sunday, according to McCaffrey.
"He has been our batboy for most of the games this summer," McCaffrey said in a Facebook statement before Kaiser's death. "He was a part of the team."
Player Kadon Simmons called Kaiser their "spark plug" and one of the teammates.
Kaiser "meant just everything to us," Simmons said. "He was a true Bee Jay."
Simmons also referred to Kaiser as "a little brother I never had" in an Instagram post.
"You took the field with us every game this summer. You were, and always will be a Bee Jay," Simmons wrote. "No person or team could ask for a better bat boy. It is terrible to see you leave in such a way, but knowing your last moments were on the baseball field makes it easier through this whole process, because you were doing what you loved."
Another player, Lee Busto said on Twitter:
The Liberal Bee Jays play in the Jayhawk Baseball League, a summer league for college players.
Player Gavin Wehby called him "an incredible kid."