Former MLB player shares love of the game | West Orange Times & Observer

Max Sapp can’t take note a time when baseball wasn’t an element of his existence.

As a kid, the 32-year-old Winter Garden resident and previous Major League Baseball player used to be happiest when he had a bat in his hand.

“I grew up around baseball my whole entire life,” he mentioned. “We had a batting cage in our backyard, and I would hit three every single day until my parents would say, ‘Stop.’ … I was having so much fun (I wouldn’t want to stop playing).” 

And he used to be proficient — such a lot in order that the Houston Astros decided on him in the first spherical of the 2006 MLB Draft. 

However, his MLB profession used to be short-lived. Just two years later, on Dec. 11, 2008, Sapp skilled the first seizure that might alternate his existence.

Sapp advanced meningitis — an irritation of the fluid and the membranes that encompass the mind and the spinal wire. 

After being admitted at Florida Hospital, docs positioned him in a coma for roughly 17 days. He used to be placed on a ventilator to lend a hand him breathe. 

“I had to (relearn) how to walk, and that was tough, because you don’t really know what you are doing, but you don’t want to end on a chair the rest of your life,” Sapp mentioned. “So that was one of my biggest goals.” 

Because of the residual seizures led to by means of the meningitis, Sapp retired from taking part in skilled baseball. However, even if he’s now not taking part in, Sapp’s affect on the game stays mighty.



In 2015, Sapp opened his personal baseball and softball academy referred to as Max Sapp Baseball Academy, in Winter Garden.

“I love teaching lessons, because I want to teach the kids the right way how to play the sport,” he mentioned. “I might say I’m an trainer (who) desires them to play the game and feature amusing.

“We are all here for a reason, and my reason was to play baseball,” he mentioned. “But this (teaching and coaching) is baseball … so this hasn’t taken me away from the sport. Once you are in the game, you can’t stop, really. But even though I have seizures, I still have fun with the kids and still throw some balls and still play with them.”

Winter Garden resident Dean Spinogatti realized of Sapp via Windermere Little League Vice President of Operations Krista Kirk about 18 months in the past. He requested Sapp if he may just trainer his daughter — Danika Spinogatti, a softball catcher. 

“To me, Max is someone who is an honest, hard-working guy,” Dean Spinogatti mentioned. “He is someone who had the golden ticket, being drafted right out of high school, and then had a big change in his life. And to be able to still have the passion to be around the game — and help kids the way he does — it’s amazing. He’s got a great demeanor with kids, he’s very receptive, he’s got patience — which is something you need as an instructor. And it seems that his main focus is to try to pass down the knowledge (he has of the sport).” 

Sapp has the talent to peer and acknowledge the issues he must paintings with every of his scholars, regardless of whether it is inside of the international of baseball or softball. 

Depending on the age and talent degree of his scholars, Sapp spends between 30 and 90 mins operating on particular person courses with them. His academy has batting cages, a baseball box and a pitching mount the place kids can very best the talents of the game.

“I always tell them, ‘Let’s work on the basics,’” he mentioned. “All I need is for them to discover ways to play the game and feature amusing.

“I play games with them; it helps them understand the reason why we do certain things in the sport,” he mentioned.

Sapp lately lives together with his dad, Jeff Sapp, in a area adjoining to his academy, as he’s not able to force as a result of of the seizures. 



In the first few years after the first episode, Sapp used to revel in a minimum of one seizure each week. Today, it’s been nearly a yr since his remaining one.

“It used to be when I felt a seizure coming in, I tried to fight it,” he mentioned. “Now if I feel something coming, I find somebody to help me.” 

Most of Sapp’s scholars are conscious of what they have got to do to lend a hand him in case he reviews a seizure whilst they’re with him. 

“If I have a seizure, hold my head, (I tell them),” Sapp mentioned. “That’s pretty much what you can do.” 

An ordinary seizure can remaining any place from one to 3 mins. A nasty one can remaining 5 mins.

To stabilize him, Sapp has a Vagus Nerve Stimulation tool. The implant is helping stimulate the vagus nerve, which begins in the mind and runs via the frame to hold messages. The tool makes use of electric impulses to lend a hand cut back the quantity, duration and severity of the seizures. 

“If you hear my voice changing, it’s the VNS cord trying to regulate my body,” Sapp mentioned. 

Working on his athleticism additionally has helped him keep watch over the quantity of seizures he has been experiencing — so, he practices CrossFit regularly.

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