From the beginning of fall ball through the present-day playoffs, the Lions’ most influential teammate was one who didn’t take an at-bat all season.
Seth Wood was playing in an Auburn Little League game when his team trailed by nine runs in the final inning. Remembering a quote he’d seen on social media earlier, John Wood, Seth’s father and assistant coach, told the players they had three choices: “give in, give up, or give it all you got.”
About a half-hour later, Seth’s team completed a 10-run rally to walk off with a one-run win. About four years after that, Seth was diagnosed with glioblastoma — the most aggressive form of brain cancer there is.
The news, which came down in September 2016, shook the local community. A 15-year-old sophomore, Seth was a rising star at Auburn Mountainview High and considered a model teammate.
How to help
To donate to help with Seth Wood’s medical expenses, go to the gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/2pb6j538
In response, the Mountainview baseball team dedicated its season to the ill-stricken shortstop. The Lions’ motto? “Give it all you got.”
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It’s one thing to come up with a slogan in the face of tragedy as a show of goodwill. It’s another to embrace it for eight months and inspire anyone within earshot.
But from the beginning of fall ball through the present-day playoffs, the Lions’ most influential teammate was one who didn’t take an at-bat all season.
“This was a situation where it felt like we really needed to do something,” Mountainview coach Glen Walker said. “The Wood family needed to know we were 100 percent there for them.”
It started with a simple gesture: yard work.
Shortly after Seth’s diagnosis, the Mountainview baseball team showed up at the Woods’ home to help them out with everything from raking leaves to pulling weeds. Seth wasn’t feeling great that day, but he still popped out to see his friends, and as usual, cracked some jokes to lighten the mood.
By October, the Lions’ fall ball jerseys sported the words’ “give it all you got” across their chests. Later that month, team mom Kathleen Zendejas spearheaded a fundraiser for the Woods at MOD Pizza in Kent. It ended up being the most profitable fundraiser in the store’s history, as the line snaked out the door for six hours.
For months, mere mention of Seth’s name seemed to prompt charity around town.
Zendejas recalls one baseball game in which a man bought a $1 coffee with a $20 bill and asked for just $15 in change. When Zendejas asked whether he wanted those four bucks to go toward the program or Seth Wood’s family, the man said “Seth Wood?!” and had her keep all $19.
It added up. By press time, Seth’s gofundme.com page had garnered more than $37,000 in donations for his medical bills, which continue to pile up.
“The community support that we’ve gotten has been overwhelming,” said John Wood. “You can tell people ‘thank you,’ but I don’t know if they know how deep in our heart we appreciate them.”
It wasn’t just money, though. On Valentine’s Day, the Woods came home to find balloons aligning a bridge that leads to their doorway. A month later, with Mountainview playing West Seattle at Safeco Field, West Seattle let Seth — who was relegated to a wheelchair — throw out the first pitch to his older brother, Tristan.
Seth’s appearance was a surprise to most people at the game — including his teammates. And when he made the toss …
“You would have thought he had hit a grand slam in the World Series,” Zendejas said. “There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.”
Unfortunately, that was the last time Seth’s teammates saw him on a baseball field. He died just after midnight on April 29. Later that morning, tributes flooded social media, and his mourners were abundant.
There were people such as Seth’s select-team coach Jeff Berg, who made frequent trips to the family and let Seth practice after being diagnosed. There was his old Little League coach Chris Barnes, who keeps Seth’s jersey hanging in the dugout.
And, of course, there were his high-school teammates, who may be responsible for the most enduring memento.
Go past the Auburn Mountainview baseball field these days and you’ll see a sign in right field dedicated to Seth. It features a #9 (his jersey number) with the words “Give It All” above, and “You Got” below.
After the sign went up, the Lions would go out and touch it before each game. And that tradition may last for years to come.
“That sign is going to stay up there forever,” Walker said.
Over the span of eight months, this baseball team helped bring a community together while making sure a family never felt alone.
And today, Mountainview will try to do Seth proud in a playoff game vs. Rogers at Heidelberg Park.
Will the Lions get the win? Tough to say. At 13-7, this hasn’t been their best season.
But when you consider everything else they’ve done, it has been their finest.