Most people remember Gary McClure as the ever-on-top head coach for Clarksville’s APSU Governors. But the diehard baseball professional has one love even greater than the game: family. When his then-15 year old son Alex suddenly became ill, McClure turned to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Years later, Alex would once again meet his dad at Vandy, but as sports rivals.
Just before his sophomore year in high school, Alex McClure was “off.” He couldn’t quite pinpoint what was wrong, but he knew it was bad when his son missed a tournament game in Atlanta at the 15U WWBA tournament that he’d been looking forward to the entire summer. Gary McClure took his son to a walk-in clinic in Marietta GA, hoping it was just a virus but fearing it may be something much worse. Unfortunately he was right. Alex’s blood glucose levels were dangerously high – over six times the normal level. Fearing for his son’s life, Gary McClure rushed the teen to Vanderbilt University in Nashville 3 hours away.
Alex spent the next few months shuttling between West End and his home in Clarksville. Gary McClure and his wife Amy took turns driving their son to Vanderbilt’s specialists, hoping to get the teen’s medical condition under control. As Alex’s health began to improve, his fondness for the area — and its adjoining college — grew. Alex and his mother would talk about the days when Alex was young and his dad would bring him to Vandy for games. Alex spent several long days cheering on the APSU Govs from Vanderbilt’s visitor dugout.
Gary McClure and his family finally got Alex’s condition in check. Alex had to grow up quickly from a mental standpoint because how he would have to take care of his body from that day on took a great amount maturity on his part. Now with the aid of insulin shots and the discipline to eat right Alex enjoys a normal life. He has also been able to stay very active in sports. After graduation, Alex went off to college at Walters State, playing baseball, a short-stop like his father. In his sophomore year, he transferred to none other than Vanderbilt. In the spring of 2009, Gary McClure smiled at his son from across the field. Gary as the rival team’s coach, Alex as the school’s newest player.
For the record, Vanderbilt won the game 10-5. It was a proud moment for the entire McClure clan, but perhaps most special to Gary, who had watched his son overcome so much at such a young age.