baseball Edit

Type 1 diabetes hasn't stopped Jaime Ferrer from being an FSU baseball star

As a true freshman last season, Jaime Ferrer led the FSU baseball team with a .320 batting average, 19 doubles and 40 runs.
As a true freshman last season, Jaime Ferrer led the FSU baseball team with a .320 batting average, 19 doubles and 40 runs. ()

In his first year with the Florida State baseball team, Jaime Ferrer got to deliver what was likely the most memorable moment of the season.

In the bottom of the 17th inning of a doubleheader nightcap, the freshman outfielder came through with a missile of a solo home run to right field, ending the marathon game in a 6-5 victory for the Seminoles.

Although baseball may not be the most physically intensive sport, it was still a grueling day of work that totaled 26 innings and spanned about 10 hours between the two games, the latter of which was essentially two full games in its own right.

To come through in that moment would have been impressive no matter who did. That it was Ferrer, who has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 3 years old, makes it that much more impressive considering how different his game days are from his teammates’.

“It was a game that I would use if anybody were to say, ‘I don't know if Jaime can play at the next level.’ I was out there for 26 innings, I was playing as much as anybody else and I wasn't affected…” Ferrer told the Osceola. “For me, that was a huge game. I think it opened a lot of opportunities for me and I raised a lot of awareness for kids with Type 1 diabetes to kind of show that if I could do those 26 innings then it's possible. Yeah, it was a long day. I had lots of snacks in the dugout between innings. I was making sure that my blood sugars were at a good level…It was a long day but I was glad that we came out on top that day.”

While Jaime doesn’t have a memory of his life before he was diagnosed, Mila Ferrer still remembers when her 3-year-old son started showing what in hindsight were all the telltale signs of a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

“We knew something was wrong,” Mila told the Osceola. “He was always very cranky, crying all the time. He was potty trained, but he started going a lot to the bathroom and wetting the bed at night. He was thirsty. He lost some weight…

“As soon as I told (our pediatrician) the symptoms, she was like, ‘I want to be mistaken, but I think this is Type 1 diabetes.’ ”


Mila couldn’t believe it at first. Quickly, though, she and her husband, Jimmy, began to educate themselves, learning that there’s nothing they could have done to prevent Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. The family also quickly learned how Jaime’s diagnosis would change all of their lives.

“That learning process for your entire family, it's very life-changing. You go from having a kid that doesn't require any medical attention to having to inject insulin to your kid three or four times a day, check his blood sugar with finger-pricking and things like that,” Mila said. “How you explain that to a kid that young is difficult. The only way is just to let them know that you are doing that because you love them and you want for them to be able to go to the park, to be happy, to be healthy. This was a family event that I can say transformed everyone in our household.”

Despite his diagnosis, Jaime showed a proclivity for sports from a young age. He played a number of sports from basketball to soccer and others and was especially good as a tennis player.

The problem with quite a few of those sports, though, was how his body reacted hours after playing them. Nights after playing tennis, Jaime’s blood sugar would drop very low because of how much energy he had exerted playing an extremely active sport.

The need to balance his blood sugar with insulin and a more selective diet than most people have led to baseball being a more obvious choice for him moving forward.

Jaime was able to look up a number of professional athletes who have Type 1 diabetes and still have had great success in their careers. Most notably, this list includes a number of MLB players in outfielders Adam Duvall and Sam Fuld and pitchers like Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan (now the head coach at nearby high school St. John Paul II). It also includes a NASCAR driver in Ryan Reed.

Getting the chance to see their successes was enough to keep Ferrer determined that his condition would not be able to stop him from achieving whatever he desired in his baseball career.

“Seeing them and meeting other athletes and people who didn't even play sports who were successful in their life with Type 1 diabetes kind of showed me that if they're doing it, why can't I do it?” Jaime said. “There was never a moment where I thought I wasn't gonna be able to play. It was just learning how to deal with it and doing the best that I can.”

How things differ for Jaime now compared to his teammates starts the night before a game is played. While all athletes are careful about what they are eating to prepare for games, he has to take that even more seriously.

FSU baseball outfielder Jaime Ferrer has to wear a monitor and an insulin pump during games because he has Type 1 diabetes.
FSU baseball outfielder Jaime Ferrer has to wear a monitor and an insulin pump during games because he has Type 1 diabetes. (Gene Williams)

He has to eat something the night before that will keep his blood sugars in the good range overnight and ensure that he doesn’t have any lingering insulin in his system. The morning of the game, he has to keep checking his levels, eating and taking insulin as needed to properly maintain his blood sugar for baseball games, which can take anywhere between 2.5 and four-plus hours without factoring in any pregame or post-game activities.

During games, he wears a DexCom monitor, which keeps track of his blood sugar level and provides updates every five minutes. He also wears a (Tandem) t:slim pump, which communicates with his DexCom and keeps him regulated while the game is ongoing.

“It gives me a safety net during the game and I really don't have to think about it during the game,” Ferrer said. “I just always try to go out on the field at a good level because if I'm not where I want to be, it could hinder my performance and I won't be able to perform at the level that I know I can and my coaches and fans and teammates expect me to.”

If his levels get too low, his energy and performance would drop. Elevated levels could affect his eyesight, a detriment and possibly even a danger while playing baseball.

If his condition limited Ferrer in any way during his debut season with the Seminoles in 2022, it didn’t affect his production whatsoever. While playing a new position in right field – he was a high-school catcher – Ferrer hit a team-high .320 with nine home runs and 40 runs batted in, leading the team in doubles (19), runs (40) and total bases (118).

A freshman All-American according to Collegiate Baseball and an ACC All-Freshman selection, Ferrer was the only Seminole to start all 59 games in 2022.

“That’s what you work for every day. You want to get on campus and you want to make an immediate impact on the team and you want to make a name for yourself as well as the program and try to take this as far as we can. It meant a lot to me,” Ferrer said. “It shows that all the hard work that I put in the offseason, in the fall, in the early spring was paying off. It was just motivation for now this next year, I want to do even better and help this team win the ACC and obviously get to Omaha. It meant a lot for me and I was super, super blessed to have the year that I had last year. Now, it’s a new year and I’m even excited.”

Ferrer was picked as one of FSU baseball’s four captains for the 2023 season earlier this month. The other three are juniors while Ferrer is the lone sophomore of the group, a testament to the instant impact he’s made both on the field and in the locker room.

“Personality, 4.0 student, he does everything you could ask…” FSU head coach Link Jarrett said of Ferrer and what made him a captain. “The guy plays hard, practices hard, he crashes into the wall. There are a couple days where I’m just like, ‘Jaime, just get up.’ I see him crash into the wall, I just want him to get up. Physical, impacts the ball, has some power. He powers balls through the middle of the field. That’s not something I say very often, but he does have tremendous impact capability gap to gap.”

Added fellow sophomore teammate James Tibbs: “Jaime is just a great competitor, a great human being. His family is amazing, I’m getting close to them as well. Being around him a lot, it’s been super cool learning what he brings to the game and trying to use it myself. His competitiveness, his fire, his passion for the game are all things I love. It’s easy to feed off of when you see that type of energy every day. I think that’s definitely part of what brought us together as teammates coming in.”

Although it’s taken a lot of getting used to and there’s still some unpredictability that comes with his condition, Ferrer definitely sees the bright side of how he’s grown because of how he’s had to learn to live with diabetes.

“Ultimately, I think it's really helped me on the field because it taught me how to mature earlier in life and kind of be more responsible, have a pregame routine, know what I'm putting in my body,” Ferrer said. “Those are the cards that I was dealt with, but I think that at the end of the day, it's helped me become the player that I am today.”

As technology has advanced to make Jaime’s condition more tolerable on a day-to-day basis, Mila has wanted to help make her son an example for other children and families dealing with Type 1 diabetes.

In 2011, the Ferrer family, who originally hail from Puerto Rico, launched a Spanish-language blog, Jaime, mi dulce guerrero (Jaime, my sweet warrior), answering questions and trying to use their platform to educate other families from hispanic countries on how to live with Type 1.

A big reason behind this was to make sure that Type 1 is properly diagnosed in children as it can be deadly if not identified and treated.

“If someone notices (symptoms), the call to action is go to your doctor…” Mila said. “If that is not taken care of in time, that can be deadly. Sadly, we’ve seen kids pass because they are misdiagnosed with something else and it was Type 1.”

However, the blog has become so much more than that for Mila.

“We started sharing our journey because we understand that we live in the United States, thankfully. We have access to the latest technology. We had a great support system with his endocrinologist when he was younger and why not share that?” Mila said. “We wound up wanting it to be that way because I was using that blog as also my therapy outlet. Jaime’s story became one that everyone in Latin America, in Spain, everyone knows Jaime. They have been following our story and they have seen him grow up along with us. So nowadays, if I share that he's going to be playing in Miami, we’ve got like 10 families that live in Miami, ‘Oh, we want to go to the game. My son, he’s been wanting to meet him and he also plays baseball.’ ”

The blog has led to Jaime becoming quite an example of someone with Type 1 thriving in an athletic field. It also led to quite a few families and kids with Type 1 reaching out to Jaime for advice. After he looked up to the older generation of MLB players with Type 1, he’s relishing the chance to be the next generation now.

“The way I see it is that I was once that kid that looked up to the college baseball players and the MLB players with Type 1 diabetes and I would have loved to have a conversation with them, whether it be on Instagram or Twitter or meeting them in person,” Jaime said. “So every time that a kid that has Type 1 diabetes comes up to me and asks for advice or for some help or an autograph and has a question then I want to do my best job to be able to help them out and be kind of a person they can go to and ask any questions whether it be baseball or Type 1 diabetes or anything. Serving as that role model, I feel like I'm kind of paying it forward to the other athletes from when I was a young kid. It means a lot to me and I'm super humbled to have that opportunity.”

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