Former Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill penned a tribute to his son Brooks
The Hill family started a campaign in February to raise $1 million dollars for MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
Former Red Sox pitcher and Milton native Rich Hill opened up about his late son, Brooks, and his short life in a piece for The Players’ Tribune Tuesday.
Brooks Hill was born shortly after Christmas Day in 2013. His life was cut short by a combination of serious brain malfunction known as lissencephaly and congenital nephrotic syndrome kidney issues, an incredibly rare mix of conditions. According to Hill, only 50 cases have ever been diagnosed worldwide.
“Everyone grieves differently, and nobody does it well. No one is good at grieving.”@Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill opens up about the toughest loss of his life.https://t.co/lAiMF10Dtt
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) April 30, 2019
Though Hill and his wife, Caitlin, knew their situation was grave, he wrote that his family re-gained perspective on life as they watched their eldest son, Brice, interact with Brooks during the few months of his life.
“Brice brought the Toy Story dolls that he’d gotten from Santa for Christmas,” Hill wrote of the first time he and his wife took Brice to meet his baby brother. “When he noticed that Brooks slept with a little blue bunny, he begged us to let him give his Woody doll to his little brother. At one point he even offered to give Brooks his pacifier. It was just the cutest thing ever. It was like: This is love!”
Hill wrote that doctors at MassGeneral Hospital for Children advised he and his wife that Brooks could only survive his kidney failure if he had surgery. Since he had trouble breathing consistently, though, doctors told the Hills they could not guarantee Brooks would survive the surgery. Even if he did, Hill wrote, he would require dialysis every two hours rather than a more standard six hours. Doctors could not even recommend trying dialysis.
“Caitlin and I both knew what no dialysis would mean,” Hill wrote. “No one said it out loud, but we knew. And up until that point, we had not been willing to go there.
“After the doctors left the room, we stayed behind and just cried our eyes out.”
The Hills were able to take Brooks home on hospice for the last days of his life. For a time, Hill wrote, they were able to live as a family, and could “just… allow [Brooks] to be a baby.” He wrote that he and his wife sang Brooks “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”, a song Hill wrote was “near and dear to our hearts,” in their son’s final moments.
Rich Hill signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox on Feb. 9, 2014. He had previously pitched for his home town team from 2010 to 2012 before spending the 2013 season with the Indians.
Brooks Hill died on Feb. 24, 2014. Rich reported to spring training in Florida with his family 10 days later.
“I needed to get away,” Hill wrote. “We all did, really.”
Hill did not make the Red Sox out of spring training and was traded to the Angels on July 1, 2014. Though he would return to the Red Sox again for a brief stint in 2015, Hill settled with the Dodgers in 2016 and revived his career as a starting pitcher. Hill started Game 4 of the 2018 World Series against the Red Sox and struck out seven batters over 6 1/3 innings of work.
Neither the Hill family nor MassGeneral Hospital for Children has forgotten about Brooks Hill five years after his death. The family launched a campaign to raise $1 million dollars for the hospital’s research and kickstarted the campaign with a $575,000 donation in February.
“I know that we’re making Brooks proud,” Hill wrote. “And that even though we’re no longer together, our son still sees just how much we love him.”
Interested parties can donate money to the Field of Genes campaign here.