BRADENTON, Fla. -- Trevor Williams watches the video once a week, he figures -- maybe more often than that. It was the first time he saw his father cry."Ever," Trevor said. "He's emotional, but he's not a crier."Richard Williams made an exception after Trevor's Major League debut, the Pirates' 4-3
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Trevor Williams watches the video once a week, he figures -- maybe more often than that. It was the first time he saw his father cry.
"Ever," Trevor said. "He's emotional, but he's not a crier."
Richard Williams made an exception after Trevor's Major League debut, the Pirates' 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on Sept. 7. Trevor met his family near PNC Park's home dugout. He kissed his wife, Jackie, who was holding their sleeping 11-month-old son, Isaac.
Then Richard stepped forward to hug his son. Trevor surprised his father, who was unable to contain his emotions, with the ball from his first Major League win.
As the 24-year-old right-hander retreated to the Pirates' clubhouse, Richard lamented to Jackie that he didn't take any pictures. The next day, they realized they didn't need any. The whole thing, captured on camera, went viral within hours.
What captured the internet's attention? It was raw and relatable, emotional and unscripted. It was the best moment of Trevor's young career. It was a representation of baseball's impact, generations brought together by their love for the game and each other.
But it was so much more than that.
"It was a culmination of a lot of things," Richard said. "I remember looking at him and being so proud.
"And I was so happy to be alive."
Richard was raised by his mother in Chicago, where he grew up a diehard baseball fan and a Cubs supporter. He skipped a week of school in May 1970 to see Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run. His mother grounded him for life.
"Then she said, about two weeks into it, 'Was it worth it?'" Richard recalled. "I said, 'Mom, it was so worth it.'"
He joined the Marines in 1974 and served until '77. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Eastern Illinois University, he went to law school at Drake University and settled in San Diego.
He's had Padres season tickets since 1991, and Trevor was born on April 25, 1992. Richard said he has pictures of Trevor in his car seat on the railing at Jack Murphy Stadium. In '97, Ken Caminiti wished Trevor a happy 5th birthday. The Williams family went to games whenever the Padres were in town, watching Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman from right behind home plate.
"That's how I fell in love with baseball," Trevor said. "[My dad] encouraged me in that aspect, because he loved baseball. … When you're around baseball this much, how can you not fall in love with it?"
Richard was never Trevor's coach, but he was his son's biggest fan. He was the baseball team's public-address announcer at Rancho Bernardo High School. When Trevor pitched on Friday nights for Arizona State University, Richard hit the road from San Diego to watch him pitch, then drove back through the night.
In the summer of 2012, Trevor went to Cuba with the United States' Collegiate National Team. Riding to the park, Trevor spotted his father's face amid the crowd of Cuban fans. The day before the trip began, Richard got a ticket.
"He just loved watching and didn't want to miss watching me play," said Trevor, who is currently competing for a spot in the Pirates' Opening Day rotation. "My dad's always around baseball. Loves it."
When the Pirates promoted Trevor last September, Richard flew to Pittsburgh and waited for his son's debut. One day, three strong innings and a Jungho Kang home run later, it became his first win.
"How many guys get to watch their son in their first Major League game, first Major League win?" Richard asked.
Ten months before Richard lived every Little League dad's dream at PNC Park, he was advised to get his affairs in order, write letters to his children and draft a will. Doctors told him he had Stage 4 B-cell lymphoma. On Nov. 1, 2015, he was given 60-90 days to live.
"My goal was to make it to Christmas that year," Richard said, "not to Spring Training."
Richard always made his children a priority, attending all of Trevor's games and his other sons' swim meets. He tried to live selflessly and make a difference, starting a fund for injured Marines and escorting them to Spring Training for years. He had no regrets.
"You do some evaluations in a rather quick setting," Richard said. "When I was diagnosed, I said I've had a good life. I had a really good life. I wasn't sad -- well, I was sad, but I had my priorities straight."
With tumors on three organs, Richard agreed to an aggressive treatment plan and signed "about 80 pages of releases" to authorize it. Six months of inpatient chemotherapy. Spinal taps. Another 2 1/2 months of radiation.
Richard wasn't out of the woods that night in Pittsburgh, but he felt better. He was nearing the end of his treatment. He'd lost weight, but his hair and color were coming back. He gets goosebumps every time he watches the video, he said, because it reminds him of what he went through.
"I got to be there, and I wasn't supposed to be there, statistically," he said. "I'm on borrowed time, but my attitude is you can stay busy living or stay busy dying."
He's still busy living. His most recent CAT scan was negative. In November, doctors told him he was in full remission. No tumors, no cancer.
"It's a freaking miracle," Trevor said.
Richard still lives in three-month intervals, he said, from blood draw to blood draw. He enjoys each sunrise, sunset, first pitch and last out in between. That window will soon expand to six months, and eventually a year, if all goes well.
With help from Barry Zito's Strikeouts for Troops Foundation, Richard leads about a dozen injured Marines around Arizona's Spring Training ballparks each year, a product of the Marine Corps League Injured Marine Fund that Richard started in 2003. One of the Marines, Nick Kimmel, met Zito in Arizona and threw out the first pitch before Game 2 of the 2012 World Series.
The former attorney and current director of legal services for two Marine Corps air stations began this year's trip on Saturday at Hohokam Stadium. The participants get out of the hospital to tour the stadiums, watch Cactus League games and meet with players for dinner. He would like to make a similar trip to Florida, where Trevor and the Pirates train, in the future.
"I'm just so proud and happy that I can take them to Spring Training games," Richard said. "I'm happy that the Major League Baseball players, who have such class, are changing lives one at a time with these Marines."
Walking around the A's Spring Training facility, though, Richard said he was the happiest man there. He feels great now. How could he not?
"I'm at Spring Training!" Richard said. "There's 12 Marines with us, and one of them is a triple amputee with one arm. We've got three double amputees here. These guys got their legs blown off, and I'm going to complain about a little cancer? Not gonna happen."
Trevor will sit down someday with Isaac, now nearly 1 1/2 years old, and watch the video again. He hopes he'll play long enough that Isaac will grow up around baseball -- like Trevor did, but even closer than Richard's front-row seats. Trevor will probably still be making fun of his son -- as he does now -- for not wearing pants during his first appearance on national television.
Then Trevor can explain the rest -- the work it took to get there, why grandpa was crying and what that night meant to both of them.
"It's something that I'm going to show him to show that this is what I had with grandpa. This was a cool moment for us," Trevor said. "This was a moment for all of us, you know?
"You work hard in the offseason and work hard your entire life to become a big leaguer. I wasn't working hard so I could share a moment with my dad. I work hard so I can help a big league team win.
"But there's a moment after that where, like, you know what? Maybe I was doing it for this moment. If I never get to the big leagues ever again or I never have success anywhere else, I got that moment with my dad."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.