[Also featured in USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sports Business Journal]

Perhaps you’ve noticed that, every time Aledmys Diaz steps to the plate this season, he sports a pair of mismatched batting gloves—one blue, one red. They don’t integrate quite perfectly with the trademark green and gold of his new team, the Oakland Athletics.

Aledmys’ teammates on the A’s have noticed. “They asked, ‘Are they Cuba colors?’” the utility man said with a smile in a recent conversation.

While blue and red indeed adorn the flag of Aledmys’ native land, his sartorial choice speaks to something more personal than even the country where he was born. The specially designed gloves, which he intends to wear mismatched for the duration of his major-league career, serve as a beacon of love and support to his 6-year-old son Nathan, who is autistic, as well as all of Nathan’s contemporaries faced with the same challenge.

“Normally, a kid with autism, people don’t realize they’re different,” Aledmys said. “We have to create an environment where people accept this behavior, because sometimes they can’t process things like other kids. 

“Using two different batting gloves, it’s a message: We have to accept people the way they are and try to help them to adapt to society.”

With April recognized as Autism Awareness Month, BRUCE BOLT, which outfits Diaz with his batting gloves, will tribute Diaz and his fellow ambassador Corey Dickerson of the Nationals (who also will wear mismatched gloves) this week.

From April 1 - April 7, for every glove sold on the company’s website, BRUCE BOLT will donate $1 each to Autism Speaks and Canopy Children’s Solutions.

“We had the chance to meet the right people at the right time, and we have the resources to get help,” Aledmys said. “So for me, being on this platform, being able to speak for other parents who maybe don’t have the chance, I would say I take this very seriously. People around me are going to help me to be that voice to reach more people.”

It was about three years ago when Aledyms and his wife Dayara grew concerned enough over Nathan’s development that they sought medical help. 

“Speaking-wise, he was late, behind kids of his age,” Aledmys explained. “He didn't like to be around other kids too much. He wasn’t engaging in conversation. Going to parks, he didn’t like to be around too many kids. And it was like, ‘OK, maybe we should look into what’s going on.’”

When doctors confirmed Nathan’s autism, “It’s tough,” Aledmys acknowledged. “As parents, you have to accept it first. I would say that’s the most difficult thing to do, to accept the diagnosis. And then realize every kid is different. 

“It doesn’t change anything. It’s a way to understand him and try to give him the tools for the development of life. It wasn’t a label. Nothing like that. It was something to understand why we have to give him more tools to enjoy life and learn and behave. I would say it was the first step to really help him.”

Aledmys credits the Astros, his employer at the time, for helping him and Dayara with Nathan, and Dayara and Nathan will remain in Houston so that Nathan, who has posted notable improvement since his diagnosis, can remain at his program with other autistic students. 

“He’s supposed to be in school this year, but he’s not ready for that process yet,” Aledmys said. “I would say in the next year, year and a half, he’s going to be able to be around all kids and behave and learn. So that’s what this pre-school is doing for him.”

Dayara and Nathan will make frequent weekend visits to Oakland, Aledmys said, and the A’s will visit Houston twice, with some off days serendipitously built into those trips; those extra days at home factored into his free-agency decision. It won’t be easy for the Diaz family to be apart so much, yet as Aledmys said, “It’s a business.”

“I have the support of the Oakland A’s,” Aledmys said. “You want to be in a place where people want you. They know what you bring to the table. And when I went to free agency, they were the first team to step up and have conversations with me about me and my family. And I'm just grateful to be here, in this city. I can have that impact on the field and off the field and so far, everything’s great here.”

And even when Nathan is far away, he won’t be far from Aledmys’ mind. The father will think of his son every single time he straps on those mismatched batting gloves. And he hopes that you’ll notice, and appreciate that there’s nothing wrong at all with being a little different.


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