Josh Dickerson's baseball passion had no limit | Seattle Sports Star of Year
In his final months, not even cancer could keep 18-year-old O'Dea shortstop Josh Dickerson off the baseball field.
Special to The Seattle Times
Seattle Sports Star of the YearWhat: 78th annual MTR Western Sports Star of the Year
When: Friday — VIP Reception and Sterling Bank Silent Auction, 5:30 p.m.; award show, 7:30 p.m.; Stella Artois after party at Hard Rock Cafe, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Benaroya Hall, 200 University Ave., Seattle
Tickets: $35 award show only; $80 award show and VIP reception; $100 premium award-show seating and VIP reception
More: To buy tickets or for information, www.seattlesports.org/ site446.php
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O'Dea baseball coach Mike Doyle still can't get Josh Dickerson's performance against Eastside Catholic out of his head.
It was a cold, brisk day last May. With each breeze that hit the field, a look of pain and agony struck Dickerson's face. Dickerson, his father Kiyo and Doyle had no idea it would be the O'Dea shortstop's last game.
The Irish lost that night, 3-2 in 11 innings.
Josh, who died July 26 after a three-year battle with cancer, went 3 for 5 in that game. Only two days earlier, for the first time that season, Dickerson had approached Doyle and told him he wasn't sure if he'd be able to play because he was in so much pain.
That quickly changed.
"He approached me on Monday and told me he didn't think he'd be able to take the field," Doyle said. "I could tell that every time he ran or any time he swung the bat, he was struggling. Then Wednesday and game day came around. ... I asked him if he thought he could play."
"Coach, nothing is stopping me from playing," Josh replied.
Dickerson's cancer continued to spread, ultimately taking his life. Yet nothing was more important to the 18-year-old than lacing up his cleats and taking his position at shortstop. Dickerson was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in October 2009, only five months after he and his teammates had captured the Class 3A state baseball championship.
The cancer spread to his jaw. After successful chemotherapy and being cancer-free for 11 months, the disease returned on Dec. 27, 2011.
He then had to make a decision. Go through a second round of chemotherapy to help prolong his life and miss his second baseball season in three years, or skip treatments and return to the diamond.
It was an easy call for his son, Kiyo Dickerson said. Josh chose his glove and bat.
"That's just who Josh was," Kiyo said with a laugh. "If nothing else, he was very narrow-minded about playing baseball. It's all he wanted to do. Even with the dire diagnosis, he refused to give up until his body wouldn't allow him to play anymore. .
"Baseball was his life, and he loved it. He had a dream, and he wasn't going to stop chasing it," said his father.
Playing despite agonizing pain, Dickerson had a memorable junior season. He played in 16 of O'Dea's 18 regular-season games and batted about .300.
His dedication and passion for baseball didn't go unnoticed.
Dickerson will be honored posthumously by the Seattle Sports Commission at MTR Western's 78th annual Sports Star of the Year ceremony on Friday. The award presentation is at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. He will receive the 2013 Seattle Children's Inspirational Youth Award, given to a student-athlete who overcomes major medical obstacles to compete in the sport they love.
"When I first heard, I was shocked they would consider him," Kiyo Dickerson said. "The term 'inspiration' never crossed our minds. Josh never did any of this to inspire anyone. He played for his love of the sport, and it just happened to be inspirational for those around him.
"We're honored and humbled, and it's difficult to put into words. It's tough for me because I have to get up there and accept the award on behalf of him. I wish he was there to accept it on his own.
"I think he'd be pleased to know that, although it wasn't his intention to be an inspiration, people looked up to him," his father said. "He would have been proud for receiving this honor, and I myself am very proud of that boy."