Growing up, Ryan Teixeira dreamed of playing college baseball. 

“That was the first thing his dad told me when he called me to tell me the news,” said Garrett Ball, Teixeira’s longtime friend and teammate.  “He goes, ‘I just want to watch my son play college baseball.’ And, that’s all he wanted.”

Thanks to Teixeira’s teammates, that dream came true in a way on March 5, a day after the 20-year-old passed away following two separate battles with cancer.  Teixeira was first diagnosed with stage one Ewing’s Sarcoma as a senior in high school, but was cancer free upon his arrival to college.  Less than a year later, in September 2016, Teixeira learned he’d have to fight again when he felt sick after returning from the Little League World Series with Grand Junction Challenger Baseball.

“We were so sure he was going to be beat this,” said Ball.  “There wasn’t even a thought in our minds this was a possibility, but you know God had different plans.”

The Mavs also had a plan for Teixeira over the weekend in their series with Colorado Christian University at Suplizio Field.  Teixeira was put in the starting lineup, batting third, at third base.  Ball laid Teixeira’s number 17 jersey on the field, and after the first pitch replaced him in the lineup.

“It took my breath away hearing his name called over the loudspeaker.” said Ball.  “When he was batting three hole, starting at third base… it was probably one of the hardest days of my life.
 
But, what happened next in the game, the Mavs didn’t plan.
 
“I just don’t know how it happened,” said Bligh Madris, Teixeira’s teammate.  “The wind was just blowing 25 miles per hour straight in.”
 
In the bottom of the first inning, Ball reached base on a single over third, then Madris sent number 17 home on a first pitch homerun.
 
“It just felt so surreal because I can barely remember it,” said Madris.  “I knew he was helping that ball get out because I don’t know how it went out.”
 
With the grab the bull by the horns kind of attitude, Ryan’s impact goes beyond the baseball field.
 
“He was the most kind, energetic, positive person that I ever met,” said Ball.
 
Madris added, “He’s the type of guy you talk to them for maybe 10 minutes, and you’re like wow, this guy knows his stuff.  This guy knows how to live life, this guys respects life, and he respects the game.”
 
As much as Teixeira impacted him team in more ways than baseball, Ball said it seems the ballpark is where Teixeira prefers to be.

“He’s in a better place now.  He’s playing again.  He can watch us play.  He’s got the best seat in the house.”

Ball plans to wear number 17 for the rest of playing days to honor his friend.

After the weekend sweep over the Cougars, the Mavs jumped from No. 24 in the collegiate baseball polls to No. 17.