I am Rob McGruder

a family member of someone we've lost to ALS


Eric and I love baseball, we all had that in common and found an amazing bond in America’s Pastime.

Eric was chosen to throw out the first pitch at Clearwater Thrasher Stadium and he had gotten there a little late because Eric was still getting used to his brand new motorized wheelchair. It was almost time for the first pitch and there was not going to be enough time for Eric to make it to the elevator on the other side of the stadium and get down to field level & back to the other side of the stadium by 3rd base.

I spoke to his son and we decided we would carry him down the stairs and onto the field. Eric was a little scared, but I looked him in the eyes and promised him that I would not let him go. We got him out onto the field safely. Eric wound up and threw a perfect pitch directly to the catcher on one or two hops but right to the catcher. I remember the catcher being a really big guy he was probably 6’5” or 6’6” and he came out brought the ball to Eric and hugged us both and thanked us so much for being there because he had lost his mother to ALS.

What are the odds? I do believe everything happens for a reason. Eric and I became brothers that day & the rest is history. I loved that Man very deeply. We became much closer than I ever expected. You never know when you may find a brother or sister in this world but when it happens you know.

Another little side note, which I always thought was cool, is Chase Utley was one of Eric‘s favorite players and he was winding down his career but was at this minor league game doing a rehab start and Eric wanted to know if he could get an autographed ball. I asked the representative of the Threshers who said they could not disturb the players while they were on the field but he would have a surprise and he would be right back. I told Eric that he was unable to get the ball signed and Eric said that was OK.

Then he asked me if his son and Whitney who worked for the ALS Association could sign the ball (I still have that ball). A few minutes later the representative from the Threshers came back with a beautifully autographed ball that had previously been signed by Chase Utley.

Eric and I love baseball, we all had that in common and found an amazing bond in America’s Pastime. Please remember Eric today and always as we do not live to be forgotten.

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