Time to Care: Corning Baseball Team Plays for a Special Teammate

By Julia Rose

Published 08/01 2014 06:16PM

Updated 08/01 2014 06:18PM

Utica is hosting the American Legion Baseball Tournament throughout the week and weekend. Teams from across New York State have been battling on the baseball field all week and while everyone wants to take home the title, for one Corning New York team it's about playing for a very special teammate.

The Corning Grays play every game in honor of one of their teammates. Chris McKibben suffered a freak accident just four weeks ago and is now his team's inspiration and every time the Grays take the field, it's to honor Chris.

About a month ago he was having some headaches but then those headaches turned into something far worse.

"On Tuesday morning they operated on him, doing brain surgery and he was paralyzed for two weeks after that, left side of his body, couldn't move his arms or his legs, his face looked like he had a stroke,” said Bill Steele, Manager of the Corning Grays.

As Chris suffered, so did his team especially one of his teammates who happens to also be a cousin.

"It was pretty difficult, I mean hearing that about one of your family members and I’m pretty close with my cousin so, it was really hard knowing that he might not have a chance to be out on the field with me again,” says Jake Eighmey, Chris’ cousin and teammate.

But then something amazing happened. Chris' uncle suggested the doctors check his magnesium levels. Sure enough, they were dangerously low and after hours of magnesium transfers through IVs, he was able to move the left-side of his body.

"The next game we saw him, total surprise, he was up standing, walking, doctors says he'll have a 100 percent recovery, he will start college next January,” said Steele.

"He made an amazing recovery, he's up, the doctors didn't know if he was going to be able to stand again, if he was going to be out, but now he's moving around,” said Eighmey.

Chris' emotional yet incredible story is what motivates his teammates to play hard and win.

"Everything we do, we kind of want to make it around Chris, every time he comes here it really helps the morale of the team, we really get more excited to play because we know we're going to be playing for him,” says teammate Derek Fie.

"When he comes to the games I mean he's happy, he's around us, but I know he's hurting down inside because he wants to be out there, he wants to win, so we're trying to dedicate everything that we do to him,” said Eighmey.

The Corning Grays say they're confident it won't be long before Chris is up to bat once again.

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