Not even through his first year of high-school baseball, Nate Clow has already committed to Washington.
There’s just something about baseball.
At age 2, Nate Clow attended his first Mariners game and sat in the stands without speaking or fidgeting, watching the entire game. By middle school, his bedroom was covered with every MLB team’s pennant, photos of legends and an embarrassing amount of Ichiro bobblehead dolls.
Now a freshman at Todd Beamer, Clow turned the passion into a starting spot on the varsity baseball team. Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Jake Lamb is a favorite player, Clow studying the swing of the fellow lefty from Seattle before every game.
Lately, another player has become a favorite of Clow’s — Texas Rangers relief pitcher Jake Diekman. Odd for Clow, a hitter so skilled he verbally committed to the University of Washington just as Lamb did.
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But what you can’t tell about Clow is he suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease where the body’s own immune system attacks the normal gut bacteria in the large intestine, causing inflammation and ulcerations. In 2015, Diekman publicly acknowledged his 19-year battle with the incurable disease.
“When I’m in a flare (up), I know he’s gone through the same exact thing with the same sport at the highest level,” Clow said. “It gives me that extra motivation.”
Clow’s most recent flare up was in April, dropping 10 pounds. He had his third colonoscopy of the month on April 24 and proceeded to bat 6 for 7 as the Titans split a doubleheader against Decatur.
Beamer (12-7) plays Emerald Ridge (10-10) at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma on Tuesday in a loser-out district tournament game.
Doctors have adjusted Clow’s treatment to regain control of his flare ups, which have subsided. He describes it as an inconvenience that can cause an average of 14 trips to the restroom a day. He’s had to immediately leave baseball games and has been on a strict diet since March 2016 where he doesn’t eat dairy, meat, processed sugars or highly processed foods.
“Nate handles it extremely well,” Todd Beamer coach Shane Elliott said. “He’s open about it; it’s not a secretive thing.”
“It’s poop,” Clow says, using humor to ease any uneasiness in the discussion.
Unlike Diekman, Clow immediately became an advocate for the approximate 1.6 million Americans who suffer from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Clow has been a sufferer since October 2014 at age 12.
The symptoms began that summer. Clow, the youngest of three, dismissed the stomach cramps and diarrhea as stress from baseball tournaments and track and field meets. He didn’t even tell his parents much about the discomfort. His mother suspected her son had food poisoning.
But things worsened. The family sought help from the doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital, undergoing numerous tests.
“They weren’t able to get it under control,” Clow’s father Scott said of the early days. “They put him on steroids for several months. Remicade (a common medication for the condition) didn’t seem to be working. They referred us to the surgeon to have his colon removed because they thought that was what was going to be where we had to go with this to get it under control. We’re very fortunate that the Remicade finally kicked in.”
A year later, in November 2015, Clow had to be hospitalized for 10 days because of a severe relapse. He currently gets Remicade infusions every six weeks and coupled with the diet, he’s able to manage the disease.
“We’re trying to buy time,” said Scott, noting research is being done to find a cure. When his son turns 20, he’ll have to have regular colonoscopies to check for colon cancer. A side effect of the Remicade is lymphoma.
But there’s no threat to Nate playing baseball.
He met Diekman when the Rangers played at Safeco Field last year. Diekman has given Clow shout-outs on Twitter.
“Baseball is where I belong,” Clow said. “I’ll just grab a glove and a tennis ball and throw it against the garage or do some dry hacking and imagine I’m playing in the College World Series.
“(But) the disease is going to be with me my whole life, so it’s not really worth hiding.”