SEGUIN, Texas – Step into the Seguin Matadors' dugout on game day, and you will find second-year head coach Mark Williams sitting on his $9.99 stool, preparing the lineup before the first pitch.
But 32 years in baseball couldn’t prepare him for the news he received two weeks before the start of the season.
Williams was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but not curable form of cancer created by malignant plasma cells.
“I knew for like a year something was going on. I had no idea what and they really couldn’t find it,” Williams said. “I had a problem with my sciatic nerve acting up ... it’s like having a knife going down your leg.”
Williams said he chipped a disc in his back when he was a pitcher in college and thought it was the same sciatic nerve acting up again.
“They were just going to X-rays at first and then (an) MRI later on after I did therapy. The next day, (the doctor) said, ‘Look, we’re going to do an MRI tomorrow,’ and they found three tumors on my spine,” Williams said.
During the team’s first tournament, Williams was scheduling chemo and radiation appointments in the middle of the games, working around the baseball season schedule.
“My wife was kind of getting mad because I was trying to juggle my schedule around the games,” he said. “You know, you’re telling the doctors, ‘Well, I can’t be here at this time because I got a game at 7.’”
Williams' wife drives him to and from his appointments in the mornings – chemo in New Braunfels and radiation in Houston – so he can make practices and games in the evenings.
His commitment to the baseball team has taught a life lesson greater than what can be taught on the field to the players who are honored to suit up for him.
“It gives us pride in our hearts to be able to say, ‘Hey, I’m playing for Coach Williams. I’m playing for the man who’s fighting through all this trouble,’” senior catcher Robert McCall said.
“And he’s still here each and every day he can to coach us, to help us get better and to be there for us,” he said.
Williams said he’s fortunate to have won state and national titles, but the defining moments in his career are when a former player thanks him years later for teaching him more than just baseball.
A public donation page has been set up to help with Coach Williams' treatment.
Don't miss a thing. Get email alerts from KSAT12 today.
Get alerted to news events as they happen or sign up for a scheduled news headline email that is delivered right to your inbox. Breaking news, severe weather, daily forecasts, entertainment news, all of the day’s important events to keep you up to date wherever you are.
Sign up today. It's Free.