12-year-old female baseball player in Livonia inspiring athletes young and old

Posted at 10:37 AM, Jun 19, 2024

LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — A young athlete in Livonia is inspiring athletes young and old. 12-year-old Gianna Peer is standing out on the ball diamond. And she's not only playing against the boys: she's shining.

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Gianna Peer

We've all seen 'The Sandlot' or heard the insult 'you play ball like a girl'. Well, if you say that to Peer, that's no insult at all.

"My favorite part of baseball is hitting the ball," Peer said.

And she's pretty good at it. At 12 years old, her batting average against the boys is .521. Her longest home run, out of the park at 265 feet. Oh, and she pitches: she's thrown 72 miles an hour in a game.

"How do they treat you being the only girl most of the time," I asked Peer.

"They treat me like I'm actually part of something in this world," Peer responded. "They're always there for me, even when I strike out."

Gianna loves her place in baseball. But that doesn't mean it has been easy. No one knows that more than her Dad, Jeff.

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Jeff Peer, Gianna's father

"Two years ago, we noticed she was running and never the fastest on the team, and always ran with a limp," Jeff said.

The Peer family went to a doctor. Gianna was instantly diagnosed with SCFE, which stands for Slipped Captial Femoral Epiphysis.

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"The femur of the left leg when she ran would slide out of the hip socket, in and out, and (she) never complained about the pain," Jeff said.

Within a day of diagnosis, Gianna had surgery in Ann Arbor, and got a screw in her hip.

"She was in so much pain playing a game that she was supposed to love," Jeff said. "The first day she was able to play baseball, she said 'Wow, I didn't know baseball was supposed to feel like that.'"

After surgery, her speed, strength and confidence all improved. But get this, she actually added five miles an hour in velocity to her pitch; sound like a familiar movie?

"It was amazing, the recovery took long but I am so thankful it happened," Gianna said.

Talking about movies, Gianna's story is nothing short of a Hollywood script.

"She chose us," Jeff said. "We didn't choose her."

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The Peer family

Jeff and his wife, Andrea, were unable to conceive. They went through three separate failed adoptions. The journey to parenthood became so difficult that in 2012, they came to an ultimatum.

"My wife and I talked and we're like 'Okay, if we don't hear anything by the end of January, we're just going to live the two of us,'" Jeff said.

Then, on January 30, they got a phone call. The next day, Gianna was born and needed two loving parents.

"We were unable to have a baby, but there was something in the universe that made her choose us to be her parents," Jeff said.

The literal and figurative path to first, second, then third and finally home, looks different for everyone. But through the eyes of Jeff Peer, watching his daughter play a game she loves, even as the only girl, is something special.

"I'd like to watch her play baseball every day," Jeff said. "If I could, I would live at a baseball field for her if I could."

"I just want to thank him for what he taught me through baseball," Gianna said. "It showed me a lot, it all started in tee ball. We just had fun each day."