(WFRV) – In 2019, Brewers’ pitching prospect Tyler Gillies received the news that would change his life and take him away from the game of baseball, but through faith and determination, he’s back on the mound this season pitching for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
After discovering a lump on his neck in late 2019, Gillies, who was coming off a fine season on the mound with the Timber Rattlers, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The first time going through, they kept telling me ‘Oh, you’ll be good in about four months’. So, I got through that. It was great. Then, when I had heard it came back, it was definitely the low of the low. That’s when just surviving becomes the priority,” said Gillies.
Gillies’ priorities had to shift from baseball to fighting the dreaded word, cancer. Not being out on the mound after growing up around the sport that gave so much joy to Gillies was tough for the, then, 24-year-old.
“I couldn’t watch baseball. I couldn’t do anything. It was kind of depressing, honestly, when I was in the hospital,” Gillies explained.
His battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma included chemotherapy and stem-cell treatment. After so much fight, doctors delivered more news to Gillies. This time, it was good news, Gillies was cancer-free.
“May, last year, they were like ‘start throwing again’. For the first time, I went out to a very quiet park. I didn’t want anyone else around and just toss. That went well and [the doctors] were like, ‘okay, it’s no restrictions now. Just build yourself back up’,” Gillies said. “They told me to treat it kind of like I was coming back from surgery, like Tommy John and things like that.”
Gillies went to Brewers’ Spring Training this year to start his road back to the field. When the minor league baseball rosters were announced, Gillies was assigned back to Wisconsin to play with the Timber Rattlers. On April 16 versus Beloit, Gillies made his first appearance in nearly 17 months. It was a special moment that had everyone clapping, including the opposing batter, the umpire, and both benches.
Throughout Gillies’ fight with cancer, his love for baseball never waivered, and getting back out on the field was always his goal. His appreciation for the game continues to grow more and more every time he steps out on the mound knowing that it can be taken from him in a blink of an eye.
“You learn to appreciate the game a lot more,” said Gillies.
The Timber Rattlers are back at home on May 31 versus Peoria to start a six-game home stretch.