Veteran MLB pitcher Rich Hill opened up about his newborn son, Brooks, who passed away in 2014, in an emotional essay.
Hill, 39, who currently pitches for the Los Angeles Dodgers, penned a letter to the Players’ Tribune regarding his second son. He wrote Brooks was born the day after Christmas in 2013. Hill wrote that doctors ordered an MRI after noticing his son’s head was slightly smaller than most newborns his size.
“At least right up until the neurologist across the table pulled up Brooks’ brain scans on his computer,” he wrote. “That’s when everything changed for us.”
The former Boston Red Sox pitcher wrote that doctors told him and his wife that his son “had a serious brain malformation.” He wrote his son had a syndrome called Lissencephaly, which is described by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as a “rare, gene-linked brain malformation characterized by the absence of normal convolutions [folds] in the cerebral cortex and an abnormally small head[microcephaly].”
Hill wrote that newborns who have the syndrome will experience a number of health issues, including a low life expectancy.
“Looking back on that winter five years ago when we found out Brooks was dealing with serious medical complications, one of the first things that comes to mind is how we absolutely never saw it coming,” he wrote. “Nothing from any of our doctors visits during Caitlin’s [Hill’s wife] pregnancy alerted us to any potentially serious problems. And the delivery seemed to go fine.”
Hill and his wife were told to go home and get some rest after learning the news. However, when they tried to leave, their car wouldn’t start. The couple went back inside and spent some time with their son.
“Five years later, it’s safe to say that I’ve never been more grateful for car trouble in my entire life,” he wrote.
The family later learned that Brooks was experiencing kidney failure and wasn’t taking any protein in.
“It was just like every piece of news, every update … was bad,” Hill wrote.
The athlete noted that his son was battling a condition that “had occurred in only 50 people worldwide.”
Hill wrote he was thankful for his eldest son Brice, who was able to spend time with his newborn brother. The family was able to spend time with Brooks who passed away on Feb. 24, 2014. Hill recalled his family singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to Brooks in “the final moments.”
“Caitlin, Brice and I loved Brooks to the moon and back, and we miss him like crazy,” Hill wrote. “He remains a gigantic part of our family to this day, and moving forward after his passing has not been easy.”
The pitcher said six days after the family buried Brooks, he returned to the Boston Red Sox camp.
“I remember at the time a lot of people felt like that might be too soon. But it was 100% what we needed to do back then,” Hill wrote. “And I guess that’s a big part of what I’m trying to get at here. Just like there’s no guidebook for how to deal with hearing that your newborn child has a medical condition that will likely take his life, there’s also not one for when it’s OK to try to find some normalcy again in the aftermath of it all.”
Hill concluded his essay saying his son is still in his life “in so many ways.” He announced his family has launched a campaign to fundraise $1 million for MassGeneral Hospital for Children. The Hill family donated $575,000 to the campaign.
“I know that we’re making Brooks proud. And that even though we’re no longer together, our son still sees just how much we love him,” he wrote.
By Kathleen Joyce