The game that heals: Visit with Team USA comforts young baseball fan

By: Ethan Felderstein - USA Baseball

On June 29, Cody Clark stood on his own two feet for the first time in over a year and a half.

On July 3rd at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Cody stood again, peering over the windows on the club level, looking at the field of the sport that he loves and once played.

Cody Clark, 7, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of 6, limiting him to a wheel chair and forcing him into multiple lengthy surgeries. Clark played in little league baseball leagues prior to the diagnosis, but he soon became unfit to play.

But, on a recent Friday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Clark was reunited with the sport he loves.

Accompanied by his father, Chris, his mother, Tina, his brother, Hunter, and his grandmother, Brenda, Cody Clark appeared at the DBAP to experience a game between USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and the Cuban National Team.


Clark sat inside of the batting cage before Team USA’s batting practice. Sitting on the ground, he picked up a baseball and tossed it to the other end of the cage.

That moment reminded Brenda of her grandson’s recovery.

As Cody took his first steps since December of 2013, he picked up a baseball and threw it-and he kept on throwing it.

When his grandmother asked if he was ever going to stop throwing, he gave the answer any ballplayer would: “No.”


His eyes lit up when he saw the field. The grass seemed to stretch on for miles, even with his eyes, which have been impaired, causing him to see double.

But, there he was, sitting on the shoulders of his father-in front of the field he loved.

Clark met several members of Team USA on the field, including outfielder Buddy Reed, catcher JJ Schwarz, pitcher Ryan Hendrix, and manager Ed Blankmeyer.

When he met assistant coach Elliot Avent-the head baseball coach at NC State-the Clarks admitted their allegiance to rival University of North Carolina.

Avent didn’t seem to mind.


Cody Clark is in the clear for now, with his latest test showing no sign of the tumor that appeared about a year ago.

But, he still has a ways to go.

Surgery is required on his eyes. He has double vision that is caused by an unknown factor. His balance is still an issue, unable to stand up straight. Clark is still bound to a wheelchair.

But, for one night, he and his family were able to forget the difficulties and enjoy the game they love.

Hopefully, the game they love, baseball, will also be the game that heals.

Ethan Felderstein is the social media and content coordinator for USA Baseball.

Ethan Felderstein

USA Baseball