"The most important thing for me was walking onto the same field Evan walked on,” says Dr. Evan Chambers. “Walking into the dugout, [walking the] same steps that Evan walked. That was truly truly a spiritual experience."
Evan Chambers’ parents, Denise and Dr. Evan Chambers, had not watched a baseball game, or stepped foot into a baseball park, since their son - the former Curve and Spike outfielder - died this last offseason.
"It was impossible to even look at baseball in the newspaper, to look at stats, let alone to see a game,” says Denise. “And when we came in it was very emotional for us to see him on the marquee. I clutched my heart. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But what it was, was my heart bursting from happiness and joy."
The Altoona Curve paid tribute to Evan last night. All the Curve players wore throwback Pirates jerseys, with EC on the left shoulder. The #31 jersey, which was the number Evan wore with the Curve, was auctioned off along with the game-worn jerseys.
Denise bid on two of them, and she won them both. The first was the #31 jersey, signed by the entire team. And the second was Keon Broxton's #53.
Broxton and Chambers played together in high school.
"He mentored me through high school,” says Broxton. “Once I went to Lakeland [High School, in Florida] he was one of the first guys that came and approached me. He made it a lot easier for me to make friends at a new place, a new school, new surroundings. I'm glad he became one of my best friends."
Broxton writes Evan's initials, EC, into the dirt before every at bat. And that #53 he wears was Evan's favorite number. It was the number Chambers wore for most of his career.
"For him to give him that tribute. it was overwhelming when I first heard it,” says Denise Chambers. “It took my breath away. He said he's going to take him all the way to the top [in the pros], and I know he will."
Broxton was the one who presented both jerseys to the Chambers at the end of Sunday night’s game.
"It was almost like hugging Evan,” says Denise. “Almost."
"I'm just glad that [the Chambers] have the jerseys,” says Broxton. “Just to, you know, remember him as not only a son, but as a player. I was hoping and praying that they got my jersey just so they could keep it too. If not, I was going to bid on it myself just so I could give it to them. But it meant a lot. It meant a lot to me. I'm sure it meant a lot to [Evan]."
With the jersey auction, the Curve raised $6200 dollars which will go towards St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
"It doesn't bring our son back,” says Denise. “But to know that he's thought of the way he is and that people are willing be generous, it means a lot. In our lowest moments, we'll remember times like this and that will pick us up and make us happy. Happy to know how many people loved our son."