Monday, February 22, 2016

Gary McClure Recounts Son’s Unique Relationship with Vanderbilt University

Gary McClure As a former college baseball coach, Gary McClure says there is something special about seeing his son Alex play baseball. In 2009, the McClures faced off against each other when Alex stepped in as SS for the Vanderbilt University Commodores, his dad donning the bright red uniform of the APSU Governors. It was a memorable experience for both, and for unique reasons. Here, Gary McClure explains why.

Q: Alex began attending Vanderbilt as a sophomore. Why was his transfer to the Nashville-based university significant to your family?

Gary McClure: I credit Vanderbilt for essentially saving my son’s life and setting him on a path that he would be able to get healthy and remain healthy for the remainder of his playing days and hopefully the rest of his life. When he was 15, Alex was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. Alex and i were actually in Marietta Georgia where he was playing in the WWBA Championship at East Cobbs Complex. He had been extremely sick and had no energy and he wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. I took him to a local after hours clinic one night that happened to be just down the street from our hotel. When the Dr. checked him out, i found out he had a blood glucose level of over 600 – meaning he could have slipped into a diabetic coma at any time. They were able to stabilize him and In that moment, I knew I had to get him to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville immediately where he would get the best care and his mother could also meet us. Immediately we hit the road and i was told to do two things. Don’t let him fall asleep and get him there as quick as possible. That was one time in my life that i didn’t worry about speeding at all.

Q: What other experience does Alex have with the school?

Gary McClure: Over the next several months, we spent a great deal of time at Vanderbilt, learning how to manage his diabetes. But, even before that, Alex had spent time in the visitors’ dugout. While I was coaching for Austin Peay, Alex would often go with me to our Nashville games. We had our first game against each other shortly after he enrolled at Vandy; it was a surreal experience for both of us.

Q: You must have been a very proud father.

Gary McClure: I’ve been proud of him since the moment he was born, but watching him persevere and develop a life of his own has been the unequivocal highlight of my life. I will admit i felt a little queasy all day leading up to the game and that seeing him on the other side of the diamond was very strange. However, if he wasn’t going to play for me Vanderbilt was certainly a great place to be.