This would have been the end of Caleb Byers’ senior season of high school baseball.
So nothing was going to stop the South Pointe baseball team from recognizing him on senior night – not even the fact that Byers would have attended Rock Hill High School.
Caleb Byers died in January 2008, and several of his old travel baseball teammates were on hand at South Pointe Tuesday night to remember a player and a friend they miss.
“I know he loved baseball, so this is a good way to remember him,” said South Pointe’s Ian Hinson, one of Byers’ former teammates with the Carolina Reds. “And I know it’s good for his family to know we’re here for them too.”
Caleb’s father, Brad, and the rest of the family were on hand for a pre-game ceremony, and his father threw out the first pitch before the Stallions’ game with Chester.
Before the game, Caleb’s family were also presented with a South Pointe jersey bearing Caleb’s 36, the number he wore playing for the Palmetto Pirates and the Carolina Reds growing up. They also painted his number on the field, along with those of South Pointe seniors Jacob Midkiff and Jacob Carrington.
Midkiff and Hinson were instrumental in remembering Caleb over the course of the season, asking coach Jason Terry if they could hang one of his old jerseys in their dugout to remember their friend. A similar tribute has been going on at Rock Hill High, where Brad Byers also threw out a first pitch prior to a game this year.
Tuesday night, Midkiff said the way the Byers family has been there to support the team moved them to do something, and as they were going through some old jerseys, the idea came to them.
“It’s amazing how much they’ve been there for us,” Midkiff said. “Caleb was a kid who had friends at all three schools, not just one, and so many of us remember him.
“But his parents are always around, and we wanted to show our support.”
Brad Byers said coming to high school games and talking to the friends of his son, including the many non-players such as Jordan Addison (who was there for a handshake and a pre-game hug) was therapeutic for the family.
He said he had an easier time coming to South Pointe or Rock Hill, while it was harder to go to games at places such as Hargett Park, where Caleb played so often. It’s the opposite for his wife Joi, who asked her husband to do the talking Tuesday as she choked up behind her sunglasses.
“It helps us to know the kind of kid Caleb was, and the kind of friend he was, and the bond he had with these guys,” Brad Byers said. “I know in my heart how good of a bunch of kids they are, and how much they mean to us. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve taken away from all this. You know how much they care. It seems like too often, the light shines on all the bad stuff that happens, but these boys have done a good thing here.
“There’s been a lot of tears shed, but to know they care this much about us shows me how good these kids are.”