Blood and Baseball: Lamar Sparks’ journey on the diamond
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - For Shuckers outfielder Lamar Sparks, his professional baseball journey started when he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of a Katy, Texas high school in 2017.
But after injuries in 2018, 2019, and the pandemic in 2020, he says was back at square one, until he found his spark in the Independent Leagues in Montana.
“Starting back over in a League like that, it took me a little bit to hop right back into it and I felt like I couldn’t get out,” said Sparks. “I finally got back to feeling like myself, back in the groove of things, playing baseball and having fun.”
Not too long after that, Sparks was picked up by the Brewers and was on his way to Biloxi, much closer to his family in Texas who comes to see him play whenever they can.
“Only being six hours away and getting to travel and watch more is awesome to have them here,” he said. “A big thing with players no matter what is support and family and having the family come and support is awesome.’
But like his path in baseball, Sparks’ journey with his family is different as well.
He was adopted at an early age, only having met his birth mother twice as of this year and has begun to build a relationship with her to show how much he’s grown as a player and a person.
“I think this was all the plan,” he said. “As far as adoption goes people adopt for different reasons and I feel like her plan to put me up for adoption was for this reason and to get me to this point. I don’t think like she felt like she could take as good of care of me as somebody else could and put me in the right places to do what I wanted to do and that was play baseball.”
“In the very beginning she helped me and put me in the right family to get to this point,” he added. “That’s one of the differences in adoption and all that kind of stuff as well is having the right opportunity and I felt like she gave me the right opportunity.”
Now, Sparks even has a taste of welcoming in a family member that isn’t blood related as his sister, who has cerebral palsy, was adopted by the same family, and is always in the crowd supporting Lamar.
“Seeing her here, they sit there on the front row so I can see them and she’s on her phone a lot, on TikTok a lot, she’s going to hate that I say that, but when I’m on deck or something I’ll see out of the corner of my eye she perks up to watch and starts smiling, you know,” he said.
Family can mean a lot of things to different people and for Sparks he says he’ll always have his own definition but when it comes down to it, he says it’s about love and understanding.
“Having parents that have no relation to me at all, adopting me, I couldn’t not see myself not growing up with them,” he said. “Family is the top tier for me. Not being blood related to them and them taking that responsibility on truly shows what family is for each other and its king for me.”
“About the time he was a teenager I told him, ‘You’ve got the dream, you’ve got the drive, you’ve got the gifts, you just keep working on it and I’ll try and support you any way possible,” added his father Pat Sparks.
Life is a lot like baseball: sometimes you’re swinging well, sometimes you’re striking out, sometimes you’re crossing home, sometimes you’re stranded on base.
For Sparks and his family, they have each other to fall back on, and when you have that kind of support from your home dugout, you’re always ahead in the count.
“All we were trying to do was say, ‘What do you want to do and how can we help you?’ Do what you want to do and we’re going to be there for you,” said Pat Sparks.
“I’ve been through hell and back so far. I’ve gone through the mental warfare and the physical warfare and came back from that. If I can do it, you can do it too,” added Lamar.
“So for the little kids watching, if you’re struggling with your travel ball team, struggling in high school, struggling in travel ball, there’s always a way back from that.”
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