One of the Jackets biggest fans will be welcomed to the mound Friday night as Coleman Elementary third grader Brody Nelson throws in the first pitch in the 7 p.m. game against Crowley. Children wearing a baseball jersey to the game will get in free.
Batting helmets will also circulate the stands as the Jackets seek donations to assist with medical expenses for the nine-year-old, who has undergone 30 radiation treatments following the removal of a plum-sized malignant tumor from his brain earlier this year.
Head Coach Ross Taylor expressed a desire early on to bring his Jackets and Brody together. Nelson loves baseball, particularly Cleburne baseball, and was among the participants at the Jackets summer sports camp, led by Taylor and his staff.
“Brody is a good student of the game,” Taylor said. “He takes coaching well and loves baseball. We are honored to have him throw out the first pitch and to sit with the team Friday night.”
Nelson started playing baseball at the age of four and has a total of seven seasons to his credit. While the spring season has been devoted to getting well, he has kept up with his two favorite teams—the Jackets and the Texas Rangers—in that order.
“Baseball is the one thing that Brody enjoys most,” his mother, Courtney, said. “He loves playing baseball, but also loves watching it just as much. He loves the Texas Rangers, and could watch them every day, if they played that often.”
“But when asked if he is going to be a Ranger when he grows up, he will tell you, ‘no way! I am going to be a Yellow Jacket!’” she said. “He used to ask when the Yellow Jackets were going to play the Texas Rangers. We would laugh and tell him why they would never play each other. Just last year, when this topic came up again, Brody said the Rangers were nervous they would get beat by the Yellow Jackets.”
Brody has now finished with his treatments and the family will be meeting with doctors Friday to receive the results on his latest MRI.
“We are praying and believing that they will see no signs of any new tumors and we will get to share at the game that he is cancer free,” Courtney said. “Brody has been a trooper through this whole thing. His father and I were really nervous about telling him that he wasn’t going to get to play baseball this season. When we first told him he looked a little sad, and then he looked up at us and said, ‘well, I guess instead of getting to be a player right now, I will have to be the announcer.’”
“He has had this kind of attitude about everything that has been thrown at him—he’s tried to make the best of every situation that he is in,” she said. “He makes us all so proud.”
The evening’s activities will also include the opportunity to “Meet the Jackets,” giving fans time after the game to interact with players and coaches, as they continue their sprint toward the 9-5A District title and the post-season. Cleburne will be going for its 20th consecutive win in the game against Crowley.
As the evening’s honorary Yellow Jacket, Brody is beyond excited according to his mother.
“He is so excited that these boys and coaches are making a special night just to make him feel better,” she said. “When he heard the news, he could hardly stand it. He turned to me and said, ‘Mom, I always knew I was going to get to be a real Yellow Jacket. I just had no idea it would be at such a young age.’”
“These boys will never know how much this means to him,” Courtney said. “They may not know how many little boys around this town want to be them when they get older. Every night as Brody prays, he asks God for two things—to make the cancer go away, and that his Yellow Jackets will win state this time.”
In February, the Lady Jackets soccer team hosted Brody Strong Night as the Coleman Colt began radiation. Courtney was a member of Cleburne High School’s first girls’ soccer team. Nelson presented each player with a green wristband (his favorite color) bearing the message #prayers for Brody, produced by members of Westhill Church of Christ.
Since Brody began his journey toward recovery, Coleman Elementary and Lowell Smith Middle School, where his sister Emily attends, have designated every Thursday as “Be Brody Strong Day,” with staff and students wearing green or special tshirts that have been sold to assist the Nelson family with medical expenses and related needs.
Cleburne baseball fan Brody Nelson will throw out the first pitch for the Jackets at Friday’s game with Crowley. Batting helmets will also circulate the stands as the Jackets seek donations to assist with medical expenses for the Coleman Elementary third grader, who has undergone 30 radiation treatments following the removal of a plum-sized malignant tumor from his brain earlier this year. (Courtesy Photo)