Baseball was everything to Walker Smallwood of Edgewood, Kentucky. But in 2018 when he was just 14 years old, he got heartbreaking news that no one, especially a teenager, should ever receive. Walker was told he had a rare form of bone cancer growing in his left leg.
His baseball playing came to a screeching halt as he spent the next three years undergoing six surgeries, six chemotherapy cycles, 24 treatments and 18 hospital stays.
Walker dreamed of playing professional baseball one day, but even though his cancer is in remission, the young pitcher’s leg would never be strong enough to make competitive playing an option any more.
“”It was pretty devastating,” his mom, Pam, shared with CBS. “He just kept asking, ‘Can’t I just pitch?’ And we kept saying, ‘No, you just really can’t.'”
The most the now 17 year old would be able to do is play catch with his teammates as they warmed up for their games.
“At the time I guess I was just kind of in denial, because my whole life, day in and day out, was built around baseball and sports,” Walker said.”
As the team approached the final game of the season, Walker’s parents and coach agreed that he could pitch for an inning or two, in order to at least let him participate in the game.
17-yo Walker Smallwood, of Edgewood, Kentucky, always dreamed of pitching in the pros, until the diagnosis of a rare bone cancer in his leg. Now in remission, the cancer ended his baseball career. But not before he got one last chance to pitch in a game. https://t.co/bWqAiv12VG pic.twitter.com/dTeOupGjHq
— CBS Sunday Morning 🌞 (@CBSSunday) April 25, 2021
“Say you did it, have some fun, and then that’ll be it. Obviously, that’s not what happened,” Walker said.
What ended up happening was more than anyone ever expected. Walker not only threw solid pitches in that first inning, he ended up pitching a no-hitter. The coach decided to keep him in the game until he started giving up pitches, but that never happened. Smallwood struck out all but two batters for the entire game. Not only that, he also tied a school record in the process.
@DHHSAthletics defeats Holy Cross 10-2 in game No. 2 today at Meinken All-Star Field! Congratulations to our MSA Sport MVP from the Colonels, Walker Smallwood! @walker04340582 @Skyline_Chili @RedsCommunity @SportsMed4Kids @DixieHeightsHS pic.twitter.com/qpJ2FqfoFt
— Reds HS Showcase (@redshsshowcase) April 30, 2021
“When the last strike came, I was just in denial all over again. I was like, that didn’t just happen,” he said.
“I was in tears, most of the stands were in tears – just one of those special moments that we’ll cherish forever,” mom Pam said.
Even though his leg is too weak to be considered for college baseball, Smallwood can end his high school career with genuine pride and accomplishment.