HILLSBORO, OR (KPTV) – A Parkinson’s diagnosis cut his big-league career short, but Hillsboro’s Ben Petrick has remained around the game.
The former Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers catcher is leading by example at the Minor League and the Little League level.
“It’s a frustrating disease,” said Petrick.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 20 years ago, Petrick is seemingly never far from a ball field.
“I am taking every day that I can and try to get out here and do as much as I can, which some days is sitting on a bucket and not even talking because it's so hard to talk as well, but I am doing OK,” he said.
After five seasons in the bigs, Petrick returned home to Hillsboro, wrote a book – “40,000 to One” – and connected with the Hillsboro Hops as a consultant for the Arizona Diamondbacks Single-A affiliate.
“It’s kind of a fulfillment that I get because I can share the knowledge I have of playing the game and being at the higher levels to these younger guys who are just starting their careers that are hoping they can keep moving on up,” Petrick said.
It was going down live at Glencoe High for the Class of '95. The battery for the Crimson Tide: pitcher Marcus Glaze and catcher Benji Petrick.
“When he was off in the big leagues, I was house sitting for a while,” said Glaze.
Baseball life and softball life come full circle. From the fields all around Hillsboro to the bigs and back, former MLB catcher Petrick and his best friend from Glencoe High, are now leading that softball coaching dad life leading their daughters.
“Beyond words. I would probably break down and start crying,” Petrick said.
Their prideful dad eyes well up watching their 11-year-old girls, Makenna Petrick and Ali Glaze, for the 12-U Oregon Thunder.
“Some days I'll come home in the car: ‘Dad! Can you not do that to me during practice?’ But it’s really cool. It’s fun,” Ali said.
Makenna said, “People are like always at school, asking like, ‘I heard your dad is a professional baseball player’, and sometimes it’s hard to talk about it but other times, it’s like, yeah, I want to share more.”
Makenna, a catcher of course, is the oldest of Petrick’s three daughters.
When asked what it’s like being a dad of three daughters, Petrick said, “Insane. No, it’s awesome. With my disease and stuff, it just works out well with having three girls.”
They’re co-coaching and co-parenting.
“Sometimes when you are hearing it from dad, it’s not as powerful as hearing it from a different coach so when I need my daughter to do some hitting things, I just zip my mouth and say, ‘Hey Ben, can you talk to Alison about hitting a little bit?’ Then I bite my tongue,” Glaze said.
Parkinson’s is ruthless and relentless. Petrick’s father and longtime Glencoe High staple, Vern Petrick, passed away this January at the age of 73 after two decades of battling the disease.
“Even as his best friend, I don’t see the daily grind from morning to night that he deals with and yet he comes out here and has such a great attitude with the girls. He’s a role model,” Glaze said.
Coach Glaze and buddy Marcus have always been by the side of the buddy who has always backed his.
“It just puts me at ease,” Petrick said. “If my meds aren’t working well, if I am quiet, sitting with my head down because I am not feeling well, I don’t have to worry about him going, ‘What's going on with coach?’ He knows.”
Glaze said, “Ben has been dealt a pretty tough hand but I tell you, even on the days he can’t move, he can't talk, he has so much that he brings to these girls. More than most people who are completely able bodied.”
A pair of coaching dads, sharing the diamond with their gems.
“We are not always in the moment and appreciate the things we have, and Ben is a reminder of the many things to be grateful of,” Glaze said. “Share the hard times, share the fun times as well, it’s fortunate. I am very fortunate.”
“We love our dads, BFFs forever,” Makenna and Ali said.
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