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St. Ignatius baseball player who survived stroke throws out first pitch at Cleveland Guardians game

Robbie Boyce is not just a survivor, he's a fighter.

CLEVELAND — Robbie Boyce, 18, of Broadview Heights, has come a long way since September 2020. 

"I feel like I'm almost all the way back to where I was before. I'm getting a lot of power back in my swing," Robbie told us.

We spent the morning watching he and his dad, Joe, play catch on a baseball diamond near their home. You'd never know that just two years ago, he almost lost his life.

"Robbie had a very rare type of stroke called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is bleeding at the base of the brain," Dr. Mark Bain of the Cleveland Clinic told us in November 2021.

It was touch and go for weeks at the Cleveland Clinic. 

"It was 19 days. There was no movement in his right leg," Robbie's dad, Joe Boyce, said.

No one was sure if he'd ever play ball again. Then, an unexpected miracle.

"I saw that the sheet moved ever so slightly. And I was so excited. I was like, 'Robbie, you did it. You did it. Do it again, do it again!' And he did it again. And then I started texting everybody. I was like, 'He moved his toe. He wiggled his toe!' And, it was just like super exciting," Joe said.

Robbie has been moving ever since, hitting the dirt every day to re-earn a spot on the team.

"This past year, I was on the St. Ignatius, JV baseball team. I was one of the team captains and I thought it was a really good experience to be on that team and be able to be one of the captains on that team. It felt like a really good leadership opportunity for me," Robbie said.

He also re-earned a spot he'd lost for a while after his stroke. It was difficult waiting for his strength to return.

"This past summer, I was on my summer club team called Release Baseball. And I was actually able to be the three hitter again for that team. And it was really ... it was a really awesome experience," Robbie said. 

Robbie isn't just inspiring his teammates, he's caught the attention of the Cleveland Guardians. In fact, they asked him to throw out the first pitch at the game against the Houston Astros on August 5.

The honor is overwhelming.

"It feels so surreal to be able to go out there and share my story with all these people and be able to throw out the first pitch. I'm really grateful to the Guardians organization for letting me do this. And I just hope to be an inspiration to anyone out there who could be struggling ... like I was," Robbie said.

The best part? Robbie gets to share the full circle moment with the man he's inspired the most: His dad.

"When it came to this, he just really, truly buckled down. He never gave any resistance. He always would just listen and try his very best to do everything that he could to, you know, get past this," Joe said. "I'm just really proud of him and how hard he worked."

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