Chris Combs is all for the idea and any chance to raise money for ALS.
He’s just not that sure about the name his younger brother chose for the high school baseball doubleheader at N.C. State’s Doak Field on Thursday.
Broughton, Combs’ alma mater, will face Millbrook in the featured game at 8 p.m. in the inaugural Chris Combs ALS Baseball Classic. Sanderson and Leesville Road will meet in the first game at 5:30 p.m. All the proceeds will benefit the ALS Association of North Carolina.
“They didn’t ask me about the name,” said Combs, 41, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, last May.
Knowing his older brother’s humility, Ryan Combs wasn’t about to take any chances.
“I figured it would be easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” Ryan, 37, said.
The high school classic is part of a busy week for the Combs family. The participating high schools are raising money for the Triangle Walk to Defeat ALS on Saturday. Johnson-Lambe Sporting Goods in Cameron Village will reward the team that raises the most money for Saturday’s walk in downtown Raleigh with a new set of game jerseys, which has added another element to the competition.
Combs will be honored in Boston on Saturday in a college baseball game between N.C. State and Boston College. The game, which will be televised by ESPNU, will be played at Boston’s Fenway Park and is the sixth annual ALS Awareness game hosted by the Eagles.
Former Boston College outfielder Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012 and helped champion the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in 2014, which raised more than $220 million for ALS research.
“I think it’s great we’re able to get together and pull for one goal and try to find a cure,” Combs said of the game in Boston.
Combs, who works as an associate director for the Wolfpack Club, said while he has lost some strength and dexterity in his hands, his overall health has been good.
“For the most part, I’m holding steady,” Combs said. “I had a doctor’s appointment at Duke last week and my lungs are still really strong. It has been good to stay busy and keep my mind fresh.”
Broughton coach Jere Morton and Millbrook coach Austin James came up with an idea for the showcase and Ryan Combs helped pull it together. Both Combs brothers starred at Broughton in baseball and then for N.C. State.
The Raleigh connections of the Combs’ family has helped Chris’ ALS fund group, Team Chris Combs, raise more than $1 million to fight the progressive neurodegenerative disease.
“The response from everyone, the show of love and support, has really been overwhelming for our family,” Ryan said.
Combs hopes the participating players will get as much out of the classic as the ALS association.
“My main goal is always to raise awareness and money for ALS but I want the players have a great experience,” Combs said. “Hopefully, we can continue to do this every year and it will turn into a great event.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio