Brandon Williamson’s parents and former coach reflect on his journey to the Major Leagues
(ABC 6 News) – It was Sunday, May 14, Mother’s Day. Brandon Williamson was in Louisville, Kentucky, when he received a surprise visit from his friend Nick Lodolo.
Lodolo, a pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds, had just been placed on the 15-day injured list. He had come to tell his friend Williamson he was going to get the callup to the Major Leagues. After receiving the news from a good friend, Williamson wasted no time telling his wife Eivey, and his parents.
“It was absolutely incredible,” said Twyla Williamson, Brandon’s mother and biggest fan. “Best Mother’s Day of my life.”
“He called to wish Twyla a happy Mother’s Day,” said Tod Williamson, Brandon’s dad. “We were talking to our other son on her phone, we were just playing on the phone together, and then he asked us, ‘What are you guys doing Tuesday?’ We were like we don’t know, and he responds ‘How about a trip to Denver?”
Brandon Williamson knew he wanted to be a Major Leaguer at 14 years old. Growing up on a farm in Welcome, Minnesota, all he needed to practice baseball every day was a ball, his glove, and a square plank of wood against the shed working as his strike zone.
It all began to pay off for him by the time he reached high school as he was one of the youngest players for the Blue Earth Pirates in 2016. That’s when the former head coach of the Northern Iowa Community College Trojans, Travis Hergert, took notice of Williamson.
“You know for a junior college we’re always looking for guys with high ceilings and for me,” said Hergert. “Just seeing him right off the bat. It was a guy with a high ceiling and a guy you take a chance on and see what you can develop.”
Hergert cashed in to help Williamson reach his high ceiling, which has now paid off with Williamson becoming the first-ever Major Leaguer to attend NIACC. But the journey to the Majors did not come without its hardships.
During Williamson’s sophomore year at NIACC, Twyla Williamson passed out at one of his games and she was later diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
“Everything changed then. So my goal in life was to see Brandon married and to see his first Major League Baseball game. So now, I’m on borrowed time and I’m okay with that. The lord granted it, for me to see what I wanted to see,” said Twyla Williamson.
The bonds that the Williamson’s had formed with the Hergert family by that time had grown beyond the baseball diamond. Hergert’s family had helped Twyla and the rest of the Williamson’s all they could in their time of need.
“You’re not just rooting for the player, you’re rooting for the family and that’s from the Williamson’s and the Hergert’s but also the NIACC family as well,” said Hergert.
When Brandon Williamson stepped on a Major League mound for the first time on Tuesday, May 16, with his parents, wife Eivey, and their daughter Pollie in the stands. All the years of hardships and hard work paid off with a first-pitch strike to the Colorado Rockies outfielder, Charlie Blackmon.
“To see that come true, that was amazing, it was really amazing,” said Twyla Williamson
“The one thing for me, I think the one memory that stands out is the end of the game, just the happiness on Brandon’s face knowing he had just pitched a great game. And to see your son succeed at something that meant the world to him.” said Tod Williamson.
Twyla’s cancer is now in remission and she plans to attend every start her son makes in the Big Leagues, including Brandon’s second start in the Majors which will be on Monday, May 22, against the St. Louis Cardinals in Cincinnati.