It was after the 2001 U.S. Specialty Sports Association World Series that Carey and Eve Moseley decided that the life of their 10-year-old son, Cooper, rarified though it all ready was, would become more exceptional still. Cooper played for the North Alabama Vipers' 10-and-under travel team, which had just finished fourth in an 82-team field. But their elimination had come with Cooper on deck, and the thought that he had narrowly missed a chance to change the result left him inconsolable. "None of the other kids were crying like that," Eve says. "We thought, Let's throw a bone in front of him and see if he'll run with it."
Since that July day the Moseleys have tailored their lives to further Cooper's goal of playing major league baseball. The World Series game turned out to be one of 127 that Cooper would play in 2001, 90 of them with the Vipers, which are based in Huntsville, Ala., a two-hour, 45-minute drive from the Moseleys' home in Montgomery. From that August until New Year's, he appeared in another 37 games in three states as a guest player in tournaments with five other teams. "About half my closet is uniforms," says Cooper, who plays no other organized sport.
Cooper is an only child whose father and mother can arrange their work schedules to meet the demands of baseball. For the first half of that 2001 season Cooper was still a fourth-grader at Alabama Christian Academy, and the Moseleys sparred with teachers and administrators to spring him for the time to travel and train. Today he's enrolled in a modified home-schooling program.
This year he has played 91 games, all for the Vipers' 12-and-unders, but he's skipping fall baseball because a physician impressed on his parents the importance of downtime. He joins the East Cobb (Ga.) Elite Astros this winter, which will shorten his round-trips by 40 minutes. "[The travel] is worth it to me," says Cooper. "Playing baseball is my favorite thing to do."
"The biggest adjustment for him has been missing the everyday things other kids do," Eve says. "Like spend-the-night parties. He wants to do everything, but there's just not enough time.
"You don't make children do this," she adds. "Children desire this. Our goals seem far-fetched now, but if he puts the effort from here on that he's put in so far, he'll succeed."