WAXAHACHIE — The rivalry between the cities of Midlothian and Waxahachie goes back nearly a century and is arguably most prevalent in the sports of baseball and football.

Those tensions were put to rest, however, during the Panthers matchup against the Indians on Saturday during the Robert Dulin Memorial Tournament.

As if blissfully unaware of their long-standing rivalry, both teams rushed Cupp and embraced him like a brother who’d been gone far too long after he tossed the first pitch of their rivalry game.

“I knew what kind of baseball player he was and the type of man Brittain (Cupp) is. He was a heck of a baseball player,” said Ray Hydes, the Midlothian Panthers head baseball coach. “We’re baseball coaches, but at the end of the day, we’re human beings first. To know what he went through and what his parents have to deal with, we’re just thankful that young man is still here with us and honored to share that moment with him.”

Cupp, who was a varsity pitcher and outfielder as a sophomore for Waxahachie High School, suffered a traumatic head injury during a skateboarding accident on Jun. 22, 2014. The devastating injury left him without the use of his arms and legs and required extensive examination, surgery, effort and prayer to regain control of his body and get onto the path to recovery.

While Cupp was recovering, surrounding communities were lending a helping hand — from donations to drives to prayers to familial support — whenever and wherever they could.

They raised awareness through wristbands and social media, but most importantly, the Panthers and Indians families and fans reached the heart of Ellis County through word of mouth and the triumph of the human spirit.

Tracy Wood, the Indians head baseball coach, said the outpouring of support for Cupp during the last year, especially from the veteran Midlothian Panthers who know Cupp like family, is one of the things that jerks old, gruff coaches to tears and something that made his reappearance at Richards Park so beautiful.

Though a 7-1 loss by Waxahachie was painted across the scoreboard at Richards Park, that was neither how the game ended or what will be remembered.

“We lost that game, but Brittan made my day, personally,” Wood said. “The guys from both teams grew up playing baseball with him. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. The kids miss him. I miss him, terribly. Brittan was a good player that was just starting to figure it out, but he always had a fantastic personality and a dry humor that always made you smile.”

Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.