Athens Drive Baseball hosts “Strike Out ALS” game for disease research

Daulton Bahm, Assistant Online Editor

The Athens Drive varsity baseball team hosted a special “Strike Out ALS” game Friday, April 11 to benefit ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) research, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

ALS is a serious, deadly disease that affects the entire body and received its nickname from legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig, who had played in over 2000 straight games before having to stop playing due to the disease, which eventually would take his life. ALS has always had a connection to baseball because of Gehrig.

The idea for an ALS research baseball game came as a result of a local man diagnosed with ALS at 42 years old, a similar age to Lou Gehrig.  Joshua Bracy, the nephew of the man diagnosed with ALS, decided to team up with Athens Drive Baseball to host the game, which will now be held as an annual event. Mar. 27, Bracy visited the Athens Drive baseball team to discuss the disease and event.  Shortly after, he launched a fundraiser to raise money for ALS research. In his campaign, Bracy sold “K ALS” magnets (K means “Strike Out” in baseball language), as well as purple bracelets to benefit ALS research.

The Strike Out ALS game was no ordinary game.  It was the highest home attendance of the year for Athens Drive baseball. In addition, at the game, a stand was set up that offered several items such as an autographed Josh Hamilton jersey (who played baseball for ADHS in the 1990s), Josh Hamilton’s team issued Texas Rangers jersey, an autographed cowboy hat by local former NASCAR star Richard Petty, four tickets to a NASCAR race and many other items. Also, foods such as Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and pies were sold at the event.  The event attempted to raise $10,000 for ALS research, and nearly reached the goal, raising $8,000.

The Athens Drive Jaguars defeated the Cary Imps 15-6 for their third victory of the season.  The team erased a 0-5 deficit, and scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Under warm temperatures and high attendance, Athens Drive Baseball was able to record the most runs it has recorded all season, as well as their first home victory. Because of the festivities, Coby’s big game and the 15 runs scored by Athens, the April 11 Strike Out ALS game will likely go down into history as one of Athens Drive Baseball’s most memorable games.

Ryan Westbrook, varsity baseball coach, enjoyed the win.

“It was a great win.  We made a great comeback and it was all for a good cause,” said Westbrook.

During the game, the Athens Drive baseball team wore special purple uniforms to benefit ALS as well as red “Coby Strong” hats. Coby Weston, relief pitcher for the team that was battling lymphoma early in the school year, pitched three solid innings and batted the game-winning hit in the game in which he was being honored.. Weston was also the winning pitcher.

Weston made similar comments to Westbrook about the game.

“It was one of the most memorable games we had all season.  It was also one of the most fun games.  And it was all for a good cause,” said Weston.

After erasing a 0-5 deficit and scoring 10 runs in one inning, Athens Drive baseball was able to put a very memorable game in the book on the same day that over $8,000 was raised for ALS research.