PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A day three years in the making is happening at Glencoe High School this week in honor of one of the most impressive baseball players to come out of the state of Oregon.
But it’s who Ben Petrick is away from the diamond that’s inspiring the next generation and an entire community.
Petrick inspired his teammates and fans during his playing days as a catcher for the Crimson Tide and later the Colorado Rockies.
“The stories are legendary,” Glencoe Baseball Head Coach Andy Ackerman said.
Glencoe baseball alum Marcus Glaze noted “he was the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen.”
But Petrick’s life after baseball has inspired many more after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at just 22 years old, while his star was on the rise in Major League Baseball.
Petrick retired after five years in MLB and wasn’t sure what life still had for him.
“When you end your career way earlier than you thought, and not much of a career, you don’t think anything’s going to come out of it,” Petrick said.
At 44, the disease has progressed through Petrick’s system — affecting his speech and his mobility.
But this week, he returned to Glencoe’s diamond to show strength through weakness.
“For me, to be able to share my rough days with people and be vulnerable like that and share my good days and hopefully give people hope that the disease, when it gets you that doesn’t mean that, you’ve gotta keep your head up and keep playing every day,” Petrick explained.
Petrick caught the first pitch Wednesday, when his number was retired, from former Battery mate Marcus Glaze.
“60 feet six inches is quite a distance at this age, it brings back a lot of memories at this age, standing on the hill looking at Ben,” Glaze said.
Petrick added “it’s pretty special.”
The fans Petrick impressed with his arm and his swing pale in comparison to the impression he’s making on those who see the way he lives his life.
“In one of the social media posts, a graduate from Glencoe, he posted that he was the inspiration for him to play baseball and he ended up getting drafted as well,” Ackerman said.
Glaze noted “he’s dealt a really tough challenge and he approaches it the same way he approaches anything in life with grit and hard work and he’s well-deserving of this.”