Posted: Apr 22, 2012 8:10 PM by Eric Blumberg
Updated: Apr 24, 2012 9:05 AM
KINGDOM CITY, MO -- On the baseball field you have to be ready for anything that might come your way. One mid-Missouri high school ball player is learning how to deal with a curveball when it comes into your life.
North Callaway hasn't won a district baseball championship since 1999, but they're thinking this might be the season they break through. If they do, the odds are that Zach Lavy will have a starring role.
North Callaway's Zach Lavy grew up playing baseball, and he didn't have far to go. His family built a ball field in their backyard.
"Every week we'd go out there and practice," North Callaway senior Collin Brinker said. "The entire team would come up. Now he's got a batting cage back there, too. He can do whatever he wants back there. It's really nice."
"In right field there is a garden. Call it the field of dreams sometimes when I hit it in the garden," Zach says.
"We got a row of pine trees back there and it was about dark and the kids come walking through those pine trees. It was like out of a movie," Zach's father, Denny Lavy said.
But this family movie is a drama.
"He's got some things to deal with that a lot of young men don't have to deal with in their lives and he's handled it real well," coach Kevin O'Neal said.
In September, 2010, doctors diagnosed Zach's dad, Denny, with colon cancer.
"Everybody always thinks it happens to the other guy. Well, I'm the other guy," Denny said.
"He went to the doctor and he said she had a pallup. I asked him if it was cancerous and he said well the doctor said cancer. So, I didn't really talk the rest of the way home," Zach said.
"I went through about 15-16 months of chemo. I got operated on and got the colon cancer taken out," Denny explained.
Surgery forced Denny to miss most of Zach's senior basketball season, but the school set up a video feed so Denny could watch it from the hospital.
"He watched about half because he was too tired, but that's the best half of basketball I've ever played, so that was good," Zach said.
Denny's improved health has him making baseball games in person.
"Having him here is awesome," Zach said. "Just to see my games."
Unfortunately the story doesn't end here, as Denny's battle continues.
"There are some legions in my lungs. We were going to radiate them, but found out we couldn't do much for them," Denny said.
So now Denny waits and watches his son play baseball, hoping for next year, and the year after.
"Mainly, the thing that struck me was I know he's going to go to college to play baseball. I want to be around long enough to watch him do some of that," Denny said.
"Live everyday like it's your last and work your hardest every single time with everything you do," Zach said.
"Every moment is special with my boys," Denny said. "That is what I live for."
Zach's older brother, Zeth, plays at Westminster College and leads the team in hitting.
Zach plans to play for Jefferson Junior College next season.
So far this season Zach is hitting .357 with a team high 3 home runs and 12 runs batted in.
The Thunderbirds have a record of 10-3.