Waynesville players honor fallen teammate

Patrick Clegg, 16, was taken off life support Friday.

A Waynesville High School baseball player has been taken off life support, after a fluke accident during a game left him brain dead.

Patrick Clegg, 16, suffered severe brain damage after being struck in the head with a baseball during a game on Tuesday. On Friday, his teammates chose to honor Patrick by doing something he loved - playing baseball.

"His life is baseball," his father, Mike Clegg, said from the hospital Wednesday. "That's what he's always liked."

At first glance, Friday's game looked like any normal high school baseball game. And it would have been, if not for the circumstances.

"It's just devastating," said Waynesville High School Principal Darrel Vaughan. "It's devastating for everybody, the student body, the community."

Patrick - the Waynesville Tigers' start pitcher - was already being recruited by colleges to play. He had fun playing the game and wanted to keep on playing. But his life was cut short after a ball struck him in the head just below his helmet.

He was declared brain dead and doctors said he would never recover. His parents had him taken off life support Friday and donated his organs.

"It's unreal," said broadcaster Marv Luten. "It's so unusual."

On the same day Patrick's family had their son taken off life support, his teammates chose to honor their fallen player the only way he would have wanted: by playing ball.

Before the game, both teams observed a moment of silence. In a show of tribute, the Waynesville players wore Patrick's number, 27, on the back of their helmets. Some had "RIP PC" on the back of their hats.

Marv Luten , who has been covering Waynesville High School baseball for 30 years, said Friday's game was the hardest he's ever had to call.

"I know Patrick, " Luten said. "And of all the baseball games, the football games - and I've seen some injuries in football - this is one of the hardest things I've done."

The Tigers played a double header Friday and lost both games, it wasn't even close. But fans said it wasn't about the scoreboard. It was about remembering Patrick and paying tribute to a player who loved the game more than anything.

And in that respect, taking the field seemed the most fitting tribute to a player that was loved, and now missed, by so many.

Funeral services for Patrick will be held Tuesday at Waynesville High School.

Below is a link to a report from the Journal of Pediatrics looking at common injuries in youth baseball. You can read why researchers recommend helmets with face shields, mouth and eye protection for high school players.