When somebody recently made off with Aaliyah Vigil’s bat bag, they took more than just some softball equipment. They stole her memories, as well.
Vigil, 14, who will be trying out for the Los Lunas High School team in the spring, recently lost her father, Carlos Vigil, to a heart attack.
Her gear was stolen the morning of his viewing. Her bat bag contained a customized Wilson glove and customized DeMarini bat that she and her dad had created togeth
er. Each was teal, blue and black, representing the colors of her longtime club team, the New Mexico Regulators. They also included her name and number, 12.
“He was all about helping the kids and their sports,” said Vigil’s wife, Erica Nelson. “He’d strive to get them everything they needed. Her and him, they made a custom glove and custom bat. They went on online and made it and designed it how they wanted it. It was something they did together.”
Vigil had been Aaliyah’s coach since she started playing almost as soon as she could walk, Nelson said, providing a tight bond between the two.
“It means a lot to me,” Aaliyah said of the equipment. “Me and my dad made it together and created together. He loved to coach me and stuff like that. He was the biggest part of my softball life.”
And now, two of the items that provided a direct link to her dad were taken.
“At first I was really sad about it because it was a lot of money and a lot of hard work put into it,” she said. “I was shocked.”
While the items can be replaced — and Nelson has tried to do that by re-ordering them both — it doesn’t make up for the lost connection, she said.
“It’s just not the same,” Nelson said. “I tried to make it close to what she had on there. I tried to make it better.”
The family believes the theft occurred after Aaliyah left the gear in the back of the truck following her first practice back after her father died.
“Her whole bat bag out in the back of the truck. She had practice on a Tuesday (Jan. 4) and we got home and it was really chaotic,” Nelson recalled. “It was a rough day for her. Her daddy has coached her since she was 2. She was just shattered. It was stuff that really meant something to her. But there was a million people in the house, everybody was coming and going. She just forgot to get the bag out of the truck.”
After the family went to the viewing in Belen, they realized the gear was gone.
The family has posted photos on Facebook seeking help from the softball community and Aaliyah’s grandmother has offered a reward, but so far, there have been no sightings. Meanwhile, Aaliyah makes do with an old bat she had and uses her dad’s over-sized glove as she patrols the outfield, second base and occasionally catches.
“I just keep hoping somebody will see it somewhere,” Nelson said. “I think people just don’t realize the sentimental value of things in life.”