According to CJ Stallings of Richton Park, baseball, with its roller coaster of swings and misses, is a perfect metaphor for life.
“Kind of hold and stay afloat, that’s what I took away from the game,” he said.
Stallings currently hits over .400 for the Tuskegee University baseball team, but the fact that he’s even playing in his senior season is remarkable. Last October, he donated a kidney to his father, who suffered from chronic kidney disease and was on a grueling dialysis regimen.
During a recent trip to Kentucky State University, Stallings’ team played a double header with his dad in attendance.
“Part of me is in him, so that’s pretty cool,” Stallings said. “The toughest, toughest guy I know. As I said, he was my role model and I saw how he handled situations. Even with his back to the wall, he always finds a way.
Corey Stallings, Sr. is the coach of the Rich Township baseball team. He said his son’s gift of life was incredible.
“What’s so selfless and miraculous about him is that he knew there was a chance he couldn’t play this year or even play again during this time,” Corey Stallings, Sr. said. “And he loves baseball.”
Corey Stallings, Sr. was a star player at Rich Central High School and spent his summers playing for the White Sox Amateur City Elite program, a highly competitive traveling team of South Side stars. The White Sox created the ACE program to open up the game of baseball to young African Americans, providing the resources and mentorship “to steer kids away from the dangers of city life,” according to the White Sox.
“Don’t go too high, don’t go too low – that’s what I took away from the game,” Stallings said. “That’s what I took away from White Sox ACE. That’s what they put in place in us. They really pushed that with us.
ACE program coaches develop all 150 players each year with the intent of exposing them to college scouts. So far, more than 230 ACE players have earned college scholarships, including 100 in Division 1 programs.
Stallings, a 6-foot senior, plays right field.
“He started with ACE when he was 11 or 12, and it was just great – even to the point, and I think a lot of people miss that point – they put you in a position to play against the best competition, like basically in the Midwest. Sometimes taking trips beyond the Midwest,” said Corey Stallings, Sr.
Twenty-seven ACE entrants were drafted by Major League Baseball organizations
“I’ve had a few outings from the ACE program, second to none, a classy program,” Tuskegee head coach Reginal Hollins said. “When I tell you top to bottom, they’re really developing and teaching the game the right way, so these kids are mentally ready to play the game and prepared for life.”
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