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Vincent Loreto DeRubeis Jr, 24 Playing for the Savanna Banana Baseball Team

Vincent talking to a younger child at one of the baseball games! He's in his yellow uniform wearing a matching eye patch!
Vincent talking to a younger child at one of the baseball games!

Social media handles:

Instagram: Vinnyderubeis

Where are you from?

Trumbull Connecticut

Where do you live now?

Savannah Georgia

Tell us a little about yourself:

I grew up in a very close Italian family in CT. My entire life I had the dream of playing professional baseball. After chasing this dream with my best friend Tony Socci, we have both achieved this dream and are currently living our dream. I am currently playing pro ball for the Savannah Bananas.

What’s your eye story?

In my final season of college baseball, I was playing at Lander University in South Carolina having a phenomenal year. Halfway through the season, I was at the top of the conference for hitting and I began getting recognition from professional scouts and was in contact with them throughout the rest of the season. I was getting very close to seeing my dream come to fruition.

I was about 3 weeks from the end of the season which meant I was about 3 weeks away from signing a professional contract. I was playing in a midweek game, and I was up to bat when an inside fastball hit me in my left eye.

I was down on the field for about 25 minutes before an ambulance came onto the field to take me to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, I immediately started getting MRIs and CT scans as well as being sedated and rushed to surgery.

During surgery, the doctor did everything she could to keep my eyeball intact by stitching it together and salvaging what remained. When I woke up the next morning, I was surrounded by friends, family, teammates, and coaches.

Having everyone there made me very emotional feeling so much love and support. Not too long after the doctor came in and sat down and told me the severity of my injury and that there was a very high probability that I will never see out of my left eye again.

This news also brought on some strong emotions and questions. After about 10 or 15 minutes I composed myself and immediately began to think about my dream of playing professional baseball and how was going to find a way to make it happen.

I was released from the hospital a day later and the first thing I did was call my hitting coach and I told him to meet me at the batting cages. Against the doctor's wishes, I had my coach flip me 5 balls to see if there was any possibility I could play again.

I hit all 5 of those balls straight to the back of the net. After those 5 swings, I was convinced that I was going to continue to chase my dream of playing professional baseball.

I then went home to Connecticut to continue my 2-month healing process. I was going to see doctors at yale medicine who helped me heal the best I possibly could have. Through this process, they told me that I would not be able to play baseball again due to depth perception issues and every time they said that I respectfully told them that I want to recover with the intention of playing professional baseball.

It didn’t bother me that they didn’t believe I could do it, it motivated me even more. Once I was cleared fully for training and regular life after these two months, I began training harder than ever because I knew I had to make up for lost time as well as learn how to play with my limited vision.

Not only was I training the hardest I ever had I also had to make money to support my dream since I was planning on going back to Lander University the coming fall to work as a volunteer coach. I wanted to do this because it would keep me around the game as well as people that knew what I was trying to do and supported me.

But that meant I had to save a good amount of money by the end of the summer. So, I began working as a garbage man in the early mornings, as a landscaper the rest of the day, and doing hitting lessons later at night (which was also when I got my training in).

After a grueling summer of long hours of work and training, I was finally able to go down to Lander University and be on a baseball field every day again, coaching and training. I enjoyed being around the guys it kept me working hard as well as having a good mindset.

At the end of the fall, my head coach Jason Burke told me about a tryout for the Savannah Bananas. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure how I would do with all the dancing and entertainment.

At the time it was one of few opportunities I had. As I learned more about the Bananas, I began to realize that this would be an amazing platform to share my story and inspire many people. After realizing that and talking to my coach and teammate Nick Foray (who played for the Bananas summer team) I was very excited for the opportunity to try out.

When I got to the tryout I immediately fell in love with the environment and the people there. I ended up having a great tryout going 2-3 with a double and the only homerun of the night.

A few weeks later I got news that I made the team and was able to sign my first contract officially making me a professional baseball player.

Vincent on the baseball field up to bat. Playing for the Savanna Bananas. A crowd full of people
Vincent on the baseball field up to bat. Playing for the Savanna Bananas

What has been the most challenging mentally?

The biggest challenge mentally was making sure I did not look at myself as if I had a disadvantage. I had to constantly remind myself to compete at a high level I had to tell myself that I was a fierce competitor and visualized the success I would have every day. I also had to tell myself that everything happens for a reason so that me pushing through this adversity is what was supposed to happen.

What has been the most challenging physically?

The most challenging thing physically for me was being able to track pitches and get comfortable hitting with one eye again. Daily activities were a very quick adjustment.

Where are you now in your recovery?

I am fully recovered now; I can live my life fully and do any physical activities I please such as playing baseball for the Savannah Bananas.

What advice would you give to someone going through their eye impairment journey?

The best advice I can give to someone going through their eye impairment journey is to get as much treatment from doctors as possible. Also, do as much eye training/ rehab as possible and stay busy by challenging yourself with activities that are out of your comfort zone. Finally, do not tell yourself you are at a disadvantage compared to others because it will do nothing but limit your own outlook on things.

Who are your eye surgeon and ocularist?

My eye surgeon was Dr. Jennifer Hershburger in SC

My other Doctors were Dr. Chow and Dr. Adelman in CT

How did you find EYEHESIVE?

Eyehesive reached out to me on Instagram

Vincent running around the base's during one of their games! Holding yellow roses and wearing his matching eye patch.
Vincent running around the base's during one of their games!

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Thanks Vincent!! Lost my eye pitching batting practice to son's team. I agree adversity happens for a reason. Still sorting out but hope to stay in the game. Best of luck!

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