By Gary Lloyd
Matthew Calvert is pitching with purpose.
The 16-year-old Clay-Chalkville sophomore lay on a bed with his mother, Tammy Wilson Calvert, on Oct. 2, 2012, and promised her two things — he’d marry a woman who reflects her and that he’d pitch his way to a baseball scholarship.
Calvert’s mom passed away a short time later after battling breast cancer for a year and a half. She was 50.
“That’s what I work for, to keep those promises with my mom,” Calvert said.
Now, the 6-foot-1 left-handed pitcher is honoring his mom on the field. Calvert is 3-0 in his first three varsity starts. He’s pitched 19 innings and allowed just four earned runs. On Feb. 23, Calvert hurled a five-inning no-hitter against Corner, striking out nine and hitting one batter in a game Clay-Chalkville won 10-0.
“I did it for her,” Calvert said.
Calvert honors his mom before each start, using his pitching hand to etch his mom’s initials, TWC, and the breast cancer symbol on the mound behind the rubber. Calvert’s mom attended all his games.
“She was just always there for me, even if I had a bad game,” Calvert said. “She was always there for me.”
She was even there last spring, just two days after having brain surgery because of a tumor. It’s Calvert’s favorite baseball-related memory of his mom.
“She hated missing my games,” he said.
Calvert’s first varsity start, an 11-3 win over Auburn, was tough, he said. He allowed two earned runs on five hits across seven innings.
“I was nervous, but I knew she was with me the whole time, so I went out and pitched to the best of my ability,” he said. “She’d be proud of me whether I win or lose.”
Calvert took a shutout into the seventh inning of last week’s game against Hewitt-Trussville but allowed a two-run home run to cut the Cougars’ lead to 3-2. He responded well and finished off the complete game win.
“He was awesome,” Clay-Chalkville head coach Brandon Johnson said
Johnson said he told Calvert after his first win that his mom would be proud. Calvert told him that’s always his No. 1 goal. Most of the players on the Clay-Chalkville roster have a sticker on their cars, which depicts the breast cancer symbol, the name Tammy Wilson Calvert, her birth date and the day she died. Some of the team’s players served as pallbearers at Tammy Calvert’s funeral. They wore their baseball uniforms because she loved Clay-Chalkville baseball.
“They’ve always been there for me,” Calvert said of his teammates. “I think this whole situation has brought us more together. We play more as a family.”
Johnson said Calvert’s family — father Dennis and older sisters Meagan, Lauren and Ashley — is “an amazing family.”
“What’s amazing to me about it is through the worst possible thing he could ever go through, him and his family figured out a way to minister to everybody else,” Johnson said. “Instead of us ministering to him through this very difficult time, their life is ministering to everybody else. I think that’s the most amazing part.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.