MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minnesota Gophers baseball team took to the field to fight for a Big 10 title shortly after learning their longtime, and beloved, pitching coach was in home hospice care.
Todd Oakes, known at T.O., was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2012. He beat it, but the cancer returned in 2014. Once again, Oakes beat the cancer. However, the cancer returned for a third time in the fall of 2015.
This week, players learned Oakes was in home hospice care. Also this week, the team beings a three-game series against Ohio State for the Big Ten championship.
“If anything, he’s more motivation. He’s taught us to be competitive, how to be good people, and in turn, it’s going to help us, just not in our baseball career, but in our lives,” Terrin Vavra, a freshman player said.
The team kept Oakes’ number, 25, hanging in the dugout as they played. And they sent a tribute video to Oakes; the players pretended it was the last out of a game and high-fived each other, while sharing personal thoughts about Oakes.
Oakes has been the pitching coach for 18 years.