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Ohio Insider: Tyler Brown - Day to Forget Becomes Day to Remember

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By: Dave Sontag 

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Ohio Insider: Tyler Brown - Day to Forget Becomes Day to Remember

Tyler BrownFor many athletes, the date would have been a day to forget.

For current Olentangy Orange High School senior pitcher Tyler Brown, July 14, 2015, was a day to remember.

Playing for the heralded Midland Redskins out of Cincinnati, Tyler took the mound and cruised through the first three hitters of the game. Hitting 94 on the radar, the burly hurler was feeling confident about his start to the day.

In the second inning, Brown retired the first hitter he faced. However, while pitching against the second batter of the frame, Tyler’s life drastically changed directions with one pitch.

After throwing a fastball past the five-hole hitter, Brown felt his prized right arm pop. He knew something was wrong, but he battled through that hitter by throwing a couple of curveballs. Following that batter, Tyler motioned for Midland’s coach to come to the mound.

Uncharacteristically, Brown had to leave the contest. With no feeling in his right arm, his mind began to whirl with negative thoughts.

“Oh my gosh, is it over?” Tyler said to himself. “Would I ever pitch again?”

After being evaluated by doctors, it was revealed Brown had torn his UCL. Impending Tommy John surgery awaited the talented pitcher.

“At that time, I would truly find out who I was. God showed me a lot of things,” Brown said.

Coaches from Vanderbilt, Louisville and Wake Forest were just three of the Division I coaches in attendance that day. When word got out that Tyler would require Tommy John surgery – every pitcher’s nightmare – all but Vanderbilt walked away from the hard-throwing right-hander.

However, Commodores’ coach Tim Corbin never wavered with his support of Tyler.

Corbin, after playing in the College Baseball World Series final in June of 2015, was notified about Tyler from Midland general manager Brian Hiler. Along with his wife, Corbin made the drive to Cincinnati from Nashville only to see Brown pull himself out of the game in the second inning.

“Many pitchers have come back from that injury. We knew that when Tyler was hurt, he would make it through the process. That is part of his fiber,” Corbin explained. “He is a very strong competitor.”

Said Brown: “Coach Corbin trusted the process while other teams bailed. He was a man true to his word. He is such a family man.”

A relationship fostered during his formative years had drawn Corbin close to Brown.

When Tyler eventually signed a letter of intent with Vanderbilt, Corbin was truly

“I am very proud of Tyler," Corbin said "I am excited to have him. He is a unique kid. I am more interested in him as a person than as a player.”

Overcoming Tommy John surgery is nothing compared to what Tyler has had to endure in his short 18 years of life. After battling cancer for two years, his mother literally died in his arms when he was just shy of his 12th birthday.

“Watching my mom pass away in my arms was devastating. I had to become the man of the house at that time,” said Brown, who has two older sisters. Tyler’s father has not been involved in his life since Tyler was 12.

Before Tyler’s mom died, he made her a promise which Brown still pursues today.

“I told her when I was 11 that one day I was going to go to the show,” Tyler said. “I need to fulfill that promise.

“I learned to be a fighter. I wanted to be half the fighter that my mom was,” Brown continued. “I knew that this setback would give me an edge to stand on my own two feet. God gives his hardest battles to his toughest soldiers.”

Following his mother’s death, Tyler lived with various relatives and friends. One person, specifically, who he has leaned on is Brandon Oswalt, Tyler’s former pitching coach.

“I met him when I was 10 and I couldn’t stand him at first," Brown admitted. "For the first three weeks I really hated him.”

However, extreme dislike did not last long. Oswalt stayed involved in Tyler’s life and eventually adopted him on December 17, 2015. Brown then moved to the Columbus area and began attending Olentangy Orange in his sophomore year.

As a freshman, Tyler attended Crestview High School in Ashland, Ohio. At Crestview, Brown was an all-league player in football, wrestling and baseball. After moving to Olentangy Orange, he now just plays baseball.

Tyler did not pitch during his junior year after undergoing Tommy John surgery the summer following his sophomore season. However, at the plate Brown hit .475 with 13 home runs while driving in 64 in earning first-team all-state honors for the 24-3 Pioneers.

“We were a bunch of individuals who came together as a team,” Brown said. “Our coach, Phil Callaghan, has helped me through this process. He’s a wonderful friend and coach. He really knows how to work with people."

In his first outing following Tommy John surgery, the grateful senior faced Portsmouth High School in a Greenup, Kentucky tournament.

“It was very emotional,” Tyler said. “I threw 27 pitches in the first inning, gave up a run and was very nervous.”

Tyler walked two in that first frame, “but my competitive nature took over at that point.”

In the second inning, Brown threw just 12 pitches. It was then he realized that his arduous battle was over.

“I’m back!” Tyler thought to himself. “I felt like a little kid all over again."

Brown finished that first game by pitching five innings in the 11-3 win.

Since that outing he has thrown two more games, both Olentangy Orange wins.

On April 11, Tyler threw scoreless ball in his 60 pitches and was 92-95 mph on the radar all afternoon.

“Looking back, I am glad this happened to me,” Brown said. “I learned that life really is not that bad. It was timed perfectly. God had a plan and this has made me into the man who I am.”

How does Coach Corbin feel this life battle will affect Brown?

“Tyler has a lot of life, and I am excited to be a part of his life,” Corbin said. “He will certainly allow his baseball skills to help him acquire an education.”

For many athletes, July 14, 2015 would have been a day to forget.

For Tyler Brown, it is a date that will be favorably etched in his mind.

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