Baseball: After nearly 2-year fight with cancer, Wauconda's Gibis drafted by Cubs
Done with chemotherapy and radiation after nearly a two-year fight, feel-good-story Pierson Gibis couldn't believe it when the "C" word came up Wednesday night.
"I was just hitting and getting a workout in with my new coach at Pro Player (in McHenry)," the 2017 Wauconda graduate/baseball catcher said. "A couple of my friends came over and said, 'Hey, you got drafted.' I was like, 'Get out. What are you talking about.' They showed me (on Twitter) and I was like, 'That's my name. What?' "
MLB's Draft Tracker wasn't lying when it tweeted that Gibis had been selected by the team he's rooted for his whole life. The Cubs took him in the 39th round -- something he never expected.
"Not even a little bit," Gibis said.
He called his dad. His friends and everyone around him at Pro Player congratulated him.
"It was just unbelievable," Gibis said. "The room was spinning."
The kid's world has been spinning since he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of childhood cancer, in 2016. It attacked his muscles, tendons, bones and connective tissues. He graduated from Wauconda last spring and finished 68 weeks of chemo and radiation treatments last fall.
Before he became ill, he hoped to play college baseball. That dream was put on hold during his illness, but this spring he announced he plans to play baseball for Madison College in Wisconsin.
Then the Cubs drafted him.
Outside of meeting Ben Zobrist at a recent game and receiving a Twitter message from Anthony Rizzo early on during his illness, Gibis says he had no contact with anyone from the Cubs. He heard from someone from the organization to notify him they drafted him.
He's wondering, however, if they selected him as a courtesy.
"That's the part that I'm really eager to find out," said Gibis, who made Wauconda's varsity as a sophomore. "I'm sure they know I play and I want to play, and I'm going to college to play. They just said, 'Expect to hear a call from our organization in the next couple of days.' "
As of Wednesday night, he was just trying to process it all. He plans to play summer ball with Pro Player, an organization he has been with since before cancer invaded his body, then head to Madison in August.
"I would say I'm about 75 percent," the 6-foot, 160-pound Gibis said of his health. "I'm not quite back into full-catching mode yet. I still need to get stronger. I'm about 20 pounds under weight still. But it's getting better every day, and I don't plan to stop anytime soon."
That's the attitude that has carried him since Day 1. In the meantime, he's excited to hear from the Cubs.
"I can't wait to see where it takes me," he said. "It gets my name out there, regardless, no matter what happens."
If the Cubs are serious about signing him, he'll seriously consider his options. He wants them to know he's a good baseball player and not just a feel-good story.
"I want them to know that I can play," Gibis said. "And though I might not be 100 percent quite yet, I'm going to get there. I'm going to be better than I was before and come back stronger. I can't wait."