Late Father's voice calls to Harris brothers
Author(s): Joe Bush
Date: April 7, 2000
In the bottom of the seventh inning of a tie ballgame between Aurora Christian and Kaneland last Saturday, Aurora Christian ace Tim Harris faced what many kids might call a crisis. The senior right-hander gave up a 1-out double, then advanced the runner with a wild pitch. Out came the head coach.
It's a scene played out at least once in most ballgames. Not quite this way, though.
The head coach at Aurora Christian is 1994 Eagles grad Trevor Harris, Tim's brother.
Trevor, a couple inches taller than his 6-foot-3 brother, moved in close, spoke intently, then gave a slight butt pat and left.
Tim admits he doesn't always listen to Trevor the way he might to a coach who might be much older and not a relative.
A father figure usually commands respect, and it wasn't too long ago that Tim and Trevor thought nothing of a fraternal fracas.
Saturday, in the seventh inning, though, Tim listened to Trevor but heard his father, Tom.
"Bend your back," Tom always said, "and follow through."
Tom died Oct. 3 of liver cancer found in August 1998. Radiation had beaten the cancer for a year, but a checkup revealed a spread of the disease.
Though Tom had continued to work as a trucking-company salesman while undergoing radiation the year before, the chemotherapy required for the second round ravaged him.
"I thought it was gone, and he was going to be fine," Trevor says of the first year.
Tom's weight fell, and two days after entering a hospital, he died with Trevor, Tim, daughter Tiffany and wife Andrea at his bedside.
"He was just fighting, unbelievable," Trevor says.
The 55-year-old was battling to borrow at least eight more months. Then he would not only be able to watch Trevor coach Tim, he'd be able to help. He also wanted to see Tim graduate.
Trevor got the Eagles baseball job last summer and wanted Tom to assist him and assistant coach Kent Madsen this spring.
Tim wanted Tom to pick up where he left off, coaching him in the Oswego youth leagues from the ages of 8 to 14.
"He pretty much taught me everything," Tim says. "I was pretty much planning on him being here."
Both the brothers were. Tom, an East Alton native who loved the St. Louis Cardinals and was a board member of the Oswego Pony League, coached Trevor until he was 16.
"He's part of who we are," Trevor says.
Tim has embraced sports for a decade, and since Tom's death, sports has returned the favor.
Tim, a defensive-rebounding whiz of a forward/center, bowed out of the starting lineup so the Eagles could add another scorer.
He reclaimed a starting role later in the season, and at the end of the year had taken 27 charges. The Eagles won a Class A sectional crown.
Basketball turned into baseball, and Tim is thankful for the distraction. He's not sure what emotional wall he'll face once baseball season is through.
"I'd love to stay busy," he says.
The brothers agree the toughest time is once the action ends and the ride home begins.
They're missing that third voice, the one that during the game advised and after the game analyzed, criticized and opened their eyes.
If Tom were in the stands last Saturday, that voice would have saved Trevor six words.
After Trevor returned to the dugout, Tim bent his back and followed through with 2 strikeouts to end the inning.
The Eagles won the game in 9 innings, with much thanks to Tim's complete game and 17 strikeouts.
"God does things to test us," Trevor says. "Sometimes he takes the best things away for those tests. We fully rely on God."
- You can reach Joe Bush at (630) 587-8641 or at jbush@@dailyherald.com
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