The TCU baseball team received news that dampened the start of its work week for the Super Regional series against Texas A&M.
Micah Ahern,a 7-year-old Arlington boy the team signed to an honorary scholarship two years ago and who has a locker at Lupton Stadium, is struggling against neuroblastoma, a cancer that most often affects children under 10.
Monday, coach Jim Schlossnagle posted to Twitter an appeal for prayers.
“I haven’t even really thought about playing,” pitcher Brian Howard said, asked if Micah’s condition would be on his mind when the series begins Friday. “I haven’t even thought about what it’s going to be like to play with that knowledge on our minds.”
Micah and his parents, Maurice and Linda, live in Arlington. He most recently visited the team during the Kansas State series, when he took a turn announcing the batters during an inning of one game.
“It’s tough. He truly is a big part of us,” Schlossnagle said. “His motto is never, ever give up, so we’re not going to do that, regardless of what the prognosis is. He truly is a part of everything we do, whether he’s here or not, and that won’t change. Ever. But it’s been tough. I wish we could see him.”
The Horned Frogs signed Micah to an honorary scholarship in 2014.
“He’s 6 or 7 years old, and you would never know anything’s wrong with him except that he doesn’t have any hair,” pitcher Mitchell Traver said. “It changes my day every time that I see him.”
The team wore patches with an M on their gloves and hats at practice Tuesday. It replaced the letter written in Sharpie many of the players had used this season and past seasons.
“I know the hearts of our players,” Schlossnagle said. “The No. 1 core value of our program is ‘selfless.’ This life is not about you, it’s about what you can do for other people. From the second we met that little guy and his family in the fall of 2013, he has been absolutely 100 percent a part of everything we do. Not just the guys that are here, guys that are out playing pro ball – Brandon Finnegan in the big leagues is checking in on him on a weekly basis.”
Traver said the news of Micah’s condition did not mean a discouraging start to the week.
“I think it encourages us to to play harder, to embrace the moment,” he said. “And honestly, just encourages us to represent him well. If there’s one thing that Micah stands for, it’s never, ever give up. And for this Horned Frog family, that’s what we’ve been about. Coming off that 2013 season, to be where we are, playing in a Super Regional for the third time in the last three years, Micah is at the core of that.”
TCU was 29-28 and did not reach postseason in 2013, its first season in the Big 12. The team met Micah the following fall.
“Yeah, it’s heavy on our hearts,” Traver said. “But it pushes us to play harder. So we’re thankful for him.”