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A league of their own

todayMay 15, 2024 4

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The boys of summer are in full swing, but for two South Dakota high school baseball players the game is about more than just balls and strikes.

These two players are in a league of their own afterlife threw them a curveball.

The game of baseball has a way of bringing family and friends together.

After all, it is America’s favorite pastime.

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“He was probably the first face that I saw,” DJ Prorok said.

JD Prorok decided to play with the Madison High School baseball team after he found out his hometown of Chester wouldn’t be fielding a team this year.

“Originally I thought he was a bigger dude, who was a first baseman; he was a bigger dude first practice I saw him hadn’t really talked to him much, I thought he might take my position from me,” Mechels said.

Thomas Mechels plays first base, so he was concerned. But Prorok plays third base and that was a relief.

“He makes really nice throws over to me, he’s my favorite guy over there, so it’s definitely nice to have him,” Mechels said.

Mechels and Prorok had never played together before until this year, in fact, they had never met.

“I don’t even know how it happened, but it just blew up and pretty much best buds now,” Mechels said.

They soon found out, though, that they had a lot more in common than just baseball.

“It just clicked right away, it’s just one of those weird friendships you don’t want to have, but at the same time you just enjoy them now,” Prorok said.

And this is why.

Mechels’ dad, who was a Turner County Deputy Sheriff, died in the line of duty 15 years ago after being shot and killed while on a well-being check.

Prorok’s dad, who was a Moody County Sheriff’s deputy, died in the line of duty almost three months ago during a high-speed chase where the suspect ran him over.

Two young men who share the baseball field together now share a similar heartache.

“We’ve been super open about it, we both asked questions and he’s been a really good person to lean on,” Prorok said.

Mechels was only three years old when his dad was killed.

He says he barely remembers him.

“It’s such an interesting feeling missing someone you didn’t know very well, but it’s still a connection that’s still there for sure and sometimes it empowers me to do better in every sport, I don’t use it as an excuse I use it to get better,” Mechels said.

Prorok misses his dad a lot; especially during baseball season.

“We were super close, many road trips, we took a lot of road trips,” Prorok said.

And the pain remains strong.

“Still thinking about it, it really didn’t set in the first two months, but now since we are starting to get back into baseball, he coached me all the way up to last year but not seeing him in the stands or at the field is not good, but at the same time it’s good to have all these teammates and all these friends,” Prorok said.

Their moms come to all their games and have watched the two create a special bond that’s almost undescribeable.

“It’s been really special to have a friendship that was first built for the love of baseball to a certain extent and has turned into the support system for each other,” Renee Prorok said.

“They are so much alike, it’s fun to watch them with their humor with their love of baseball and it’s a deep love of baseball, they love this game of baseball,” Mechels-Rowe said.

But they are much more than teammates.

“They are pretty mature to deal with what they’ve had to deal with they didn’t get a choice, but they have dealt with it with tremendous grace and friendship,” Prorok said.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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