FAIRFIELD, Ohio – Brock Mathis remembers the day his dad bought him his first set of catcher's gear.
“I'll never forget. He took me in the backyard and was throwing them as hard as he could at me. It would knock me in the head. It would hit me in the arms.”
That was 12 years ago. Now Mathis is not only one of the best catchers in the Tri-State, the high school sports web site MaxPreps has anointed the senior the No. 1 player in the state of Ohio.
Mathis was batting .415 (17 for 41) through 15 games with a .544 on-base percentage. Last year he hit .406 with eight doubles, three home runs and 16 RBI.
Mathis is so good, the University of Louisville started recruiting him years ago. That's where he's going to go after his career at Fairfield. But that's only part of his story.
It was six year ago. The pastor at Princeton Pike Church of God had been watching his young parishioner, had talked a lot with Brock, liked what he heard. And then Pastor Barry Clardy dropped this on Mathis.
“I told him, ‘Hey, you're going to be speaking Sunday.’ And he was 12 years old and he didn't bat an eye,” Clardy remembers.
The Mathis family is one of deep faith. The Princeton Pike Church is one of great size. Brock lived up to the moment.
"I love to talk,” Mathis said.
And he was inspiring.
“Come to find out, we get there and maybe 20-25 people gave their heart to the lord that night," Clardy said. "It was just his love and his grace.”
Mathis says he still gives his testimony, but only when asked. Right now, it's his final year on the Fairfield baseball team that has his immediate attention. And as for being the No. 1 player in Ohio, he's setting his sights higher.
“It makes me work harder,” Mathis said. “I'm blessed and humbled by that. But I want to be No. 1 in the country.”
Another piece of testimony he'll be happy to share with you.