They may be rivals on the field, but when the bats are down and the gloves off, Hatboro and Upper Moreland little leagues are playing for the same team.
Bobby Taggart, 14, who recently moved to Upper Moreland, but spent most of his life in Hatboro – playing for Hatboro Little League since age 5 – was diagnosed in January with a rare form of bone cancer.
On Saturday, the two leagues are enlisting help from hair stylists who will braid and buzz cut as many heads as possible to fundraise for Bobby’s medical expenses.
“It kind of brought the two leagues together, which is a pretty big deal,” said Bobby’s father, John Taggart, while awaiting his son’s limb salvage surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia earlier this week. “That’s what’s nice to see that they can come together for a kid like him.”
And how could anyone who knows the Germantown Academy eighth-grader not at least want to step up to help? An all-around positive kid who took the lemons of chemo-induced hair loss and made lemonade via a new buzzed haircut, Mr. Taggart said the cancer itself has never gotten his son down.
Rather, the love of the game – and having to sit on the sidelines this season – has been the most difficult part of the ordeal.
“What he’s upset most about is missing the baseball season. He really misses being with his friends out on the baseball field,” Mr. Taggart said. “When it came to baseball he really didn’t care if they were winning or losing. He really just loved playing the game.”
While his son Bobby – who has a fraternal twin Johnny - is expected to make a full recovery from the bone cancer in his leg, Mr. Taggart said playing baseball could be tricky.
“The surgeons aren’t telling him to go out and play baseball,” he said. “He’s going to have an artificial knee … the more activities he plays, the sooner it will need to be replaced.”
On Wednesday, Bobby had surgery to remove the remaining tumor and “bad bone,” his father said. From there, the teen will need to continue with chemotherapy for the rest of the summer as a preventative measure, Mr. Taggart said.
“Hopefully he’ll be back in the swing of things next year,” he said.
As for the family, Mr. Taggart said the frequent commutes to and from Children’s Hospital, expensive prescriptions and seemingly countless co-pays, coupled with days off from his auto repair shop, Taggart’s Automotive, have taken a toll on their finances.
Mr. Taggart expressed gratitude at the outpouring of support from both little league teams, even choking up a bit with emotion.
Perhaps Hatboro and Upper Moreland little leaguers took a page from Bobby Taggart’s playbook.
“He was never cocky or arrogant. He played the game because he loved playing the game,” his father said. “It was nothing else. Winning and losing didn’t matter.”
And when rivals join forces to play for the same team, the outcome can be no less than a homerun.
How you can help
- Upper Moreland Little League will host Buzz Cuts and Braids for Bobby on April 14 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Upper Moreland Little League complex upper parking lot. Donations made for hair services will benefit the Taggart family.
- Hatboro Little League is also hosting Buzz Cuts and Braids for Bobby on April 14 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hatboro Little League field (near the flagpole). Donations for hair services will benefit the Taggart family.