CCD pitcher Brock sees a changeup he wasn't expecting
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Cincinnati Country Day senior TJ Brock signed his commitment letter to Ohio State baseball on Friday during the school's signing day ceremony.
With a fastball in the mid-90s, Brock could easily have chosen a more tradition-rich school in the South, but games of catch with his dad that ignited his dreams changed dramatically last fall and kept him close to home.
"That was our getaway from the world. That was our little spot where we could go where we didn't have to think about what's going on in our life, where he was sick. We knew baseball was our getaway," said TJ.
TJ's dad, Tom, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in September 2017 at 51 years old.
"It's maybe a blessing. We slow down and appreciate everything we're doing rather than 'hurry up, lets get out the door, let's get to the game,'" said TJ's mom, Kathy.
But the game, the sport, has been the constant for the Brocks; the thing that blurs reality just a bit.
"I was scared. I didn't wanna lose my dad," TJ explained.
Tom and Kathy met at the University of Michigan. She played volleyball and he played baseball. Tom was teammates with Barry Larkin and drafted by the Mariners in 1987.
They’ll now send TJ, the eldest of their four kids, off to Big Ten rival Ohio State where he’ll play for the Buckeyes.
"He doesn't get rattled. Even if the bases are loaded or things aren't going great, he's pretty confident. He doesn't show his emotions on the field very often, he keeps that all inside," said CCD baseball coach Tim Dunn.
Six days before Tom's official diagnosis, TJ's best friend and cousin, Stevie, died suddenly of a heart attack just before his 24th birthday.
"He [Stevie] played baseball at Nebraska, and I knew at that moment, I love the game, but now I'm playing the game for him," said TJ.
TJ left to train at IMG Academy in Florida his freshman year. When he returned home as a junior he had to adjust to a new and different throwing routine with his dad.
"They put electrodes on my head and blasted a section of my brain, and because of that my speech is a little slower and my reaction time is a little slower," explained Tom.
Tom suffers from strokes on both sides of his brain, a result of a surgery he underwent in Switzerland.
He’s now working with doctors at the University of Cincinnati who have hope that his motor skills can improve and they can slow the progression of the disease.
"The kids have done a really good job, and so have Tom and I, just to keep it as normal as we can. It's a new normal everyday," said Kathy.
Maybe the magic of the field is the reminder of choice. How we react, how we see things, what we choose to see.
"It's just us. That's where we can get away and we don't have to think about all the bad things," TJ said.