Former Detroit Tigers player hosting Stanton baseball clinic fundraiser

STANTON, Mich. -- A woman from Montcalm County is honoring the life of her late husband with the help of her favorite baseball team.

Mary Thomas' love of the Detroit Tigers started as a young girl, and when her husband Erik's health deteriorated they were right there to help. Now, they're even helping keep his memory alive.

"Erik's heart problems began less than a year after we got married," Thomas said.

He was in and out of the hospital for years with multiple heart attacks and surgeries.

"We knew his heart was really bad, we didn't know how long he would have," Thomas said. "He wasn't considered disabled yet, so we just decided we were going to live life to the fullest."

The couple decided to carry out a bucket list. At the top of Mary's list was Detroit Tigers fantasy camp. It had been a dream of hers for a long time.

"I had always wanted to go to Tigers fantasy camp and so one day I just told [Erik] 'I really want to go to Tigers fantasy camp,'" Thomas said.

The day before leaving for camp she hurt her hand in batting practice, leaving he ron the bench. However, she ended up starting an unusual friendship with former Detroit Tiger Milt Cuyler.

"He's a very humble man and he got to know Erik and [her daughter] Erika while we were there too and just one day I just reached out to him last fall if he would come and do a baseball clinic to raise money for medical bills," Thomas said.

When Erik passed away in March, they decided to change the clinic to now create a fundraiser in Erik's honor.

"It always showed me that he cared," Thomas said. "It made me feel really good, but that's how humble he is."

On Saturday, they'll be hosting a youth baseball clinic from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the ball fields at D. Hale Brake Park in Stanton.  The clinic is for boys and girls ages 6 to 13 years old and costs $25.   Thomas says $5 of the fee will be donated to the Central Montcalm Community Foundation.

Players are asked to bring their own mitts and bats.

Anyone who wants more information about the clinic should contact Mary Thomas at mthomas@casair.net.

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