Brock Stevens had a big day in is life on Oct. 11, 2011. That’s the day the Trinity pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery.
On Wednesday, after a long year of physical and mental rehabilitation, Stevens, his mother and father seated beside him, signed to play baseball for South Alabama.
“I had extreme doubts of my future in baseball,” Stevens said. “Tommy John is a pitcher’s surgery, and I’m a pitcher, so it downed me a little bit.”
And for good reason.
Tommy John surgery is the known name for ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction. Wear, stress or some other factor of the baseball throwing motion deteriorates the UCL. If this occurs, and the person is still interested in throwing baseballs, surgery is needed to replace the ligament. Recovery time is known to be close to a year for pitchers. Stevens was back pitching for Trinity seven months to the day from his surgery.
“We knew he had the work ethic to get back at it,” his father Slay Stevens said. “He knew it was up to him to go every day he was supposed to go. His body responded like a duck to water. He just really worked hard. He worked everything from his toenails to his hair follicles and everything in between.”
The therapy, aided by the direction of physical therapist Mike Ellis and the prayers of his family, friends and teammates, resulted in a nine-pitch, fastball-only outing in Trinity’s semifinal playoff win.
Two days later, he recorded the final five outs in Game 1 of the state championship series against Piedmont at Paterson Field. The next day, Trinity won the 3A state championship.
Stevens, a senior, was unsure of his college options post-surgery.
His father said they felt Brock was a little “behind the curve” in getting exposure after the surgery. To rectify this, Brock joined a fall team out of Mississippi headed by a Washington Nationals scout. The fall baseball led to an opportunity to pitch before the South Alabama coaches.
“I threw in a fall league game down there,” Stevens said. “All the coaches came to me after the game and they were like, ‘We heard about your surgery, and didn’t think much of it at the time. But now, seeing the results, we’re really interested.’ They talked to me for a little while down there, and then they offered the next day.”
Wednesday was another big day for Stevens.
He stood before his class — and teammates, his grandparents, sisters, coaches and teachers, and he thanked God and all those gathered for believing in him.
They clapped and took pictures. They smiled. He sat at the table — the two hats, one red and the other blue, before him — and he signed his letter of intent to move from Montgomery to Mobile in pursuit of a dream still pursuable after a year of hard work.