Sal Cipriano, survivor of brutal baseball bat attack, throws first pitch at Tigers game

Victim of 2012 baseball bat attack continues amazing road to recovery

DETROIT – Thursday was a day Sal Cipriano has been dreaming about since he was 5 years old.

He threw out the first pitch at a Tigers game.

Cipriano was 17 years old when he suffered a nearly deadly head injury during a brutal baseball bat attack. It's a miracle that he can even walk, let alone throw a pitch at Comerica Park.

"This has been huge," said Tanner Cipriano, Sal's twin brother. "Every day we have been out. Every day with his trainers."

Sal's oldest brother, Tucker Cipriano, and his friend, Mitchell Young, brutally attacked and killed Sal's father, Robert, with a baseball bat during a 2012 attack.

Sal and his mother survived the attack, but they both suffered serious injuries.

TIMELINE: What happened during Cipriano family attack?

After the attack, Sal Cipriano couldn't walk and couldn't eat. His outlook on life was bleak, but his determination and a new doctor helped in his miraculous recovery.

Local 4 has been following his progress along the way. We knew his wish to throw out the first pitch, so Local 4 called the Tigers and made it happen.

"He's been working hard to get it to the plate and he has been doing it,"  Rose Cipriano, Sal's mother, said.

The Cipriano family has been there for Sal every step of the way -- helping and guiding. Everyone admits they are nervous, but not Sal.

The loud park can be intimidating. Pictures were taken with family, friends and Tigers mascot, Paws.

"Piece of cake," Sal's doctor, Dr. Anthony Lemmo, told him. "Nail a strike right down the middle."

Lemmo came to the event to watch in person what his patient has been working so hard for.

His mother tried to center her son's attention as he got his instructions.

"OK, so when you hear your name, then you practice in your head," she told Sal. "Get it together."

His twin brother was by his side to help guide the way, and as he always does, to protect Sal. They walked out to the mound together as Sal's name was announced.

After the pitch, there were more photos and Sal received a signed baseball.

Sal had a suite filled with his friends, some from kindergarten, family members and his support team wanting to celebrate his accomplishment.

It was a day Sal will never forget.

Tucker and Young are behind bars on first-degree murder convictions.

You can watch Sal's pitch and get Karen Drew's full story in the video posted above.

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About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.