By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Aug. 16 — T.R. Williams has earned many awards on a baseball field, but Sunday’s ceremony at Shenandoah Memorial Ballpark was a little different.
About 35 members of the community made up of family, friends, town officials and Panther supporters gathered at the local youth baseball facility to celebrate one of the best to come through its ranks. Williams was ranked by Prep Baseball Report as the top overall player in the state of Virginia and Washington, D.C., for the class of 2021. He also spoke to at least 10 Major League Baseball teams through Zoom interviews prior to January and had filled out questionnaires for 20 of the 30 MLB clubs.
With his baseball accolades well known to almost everyone in the community — including a freshman season in 2018 featuring a state title for Page County High School and the honor of being named Virginia’s 2A Player of the Year — Williams further captured the attention and the hearts of the community when he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. In February, prior to the start of his senior season, Williams began showing symptoms as the rare disorder slowly began attacking his nervous system.
The strong left-handed pitcher and power hitter would spend 54 days at the University of Virginia Medical Center, including nearly a month in intensive care. He spent several days in a “vegetative state” in which family feared the worst. But he turned the corner and began to improve, eventually being released from the hospital on April 1.
Not that his rapid recovery wasn’t impressive enough, Williams would return to his team in late May to play out the last few weeks of his high school career. In his first at-bat on May 21 at East Rockingham, he delivered a clutch single — followed by a standing ovation from both sides of the bleachers. In fact, T.R. collected three RBI that day.
The Panthers would make the state tournament for the third time during Williams’ high school career (including one season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic), but they fell in the first round to Poquoson.
The remarkable and inspiring achievements of Williams and his willingness to persevere prompted the Town of Shenandoah to bestow a special honor on Sunday afternoon. Just three days before leaving for Blacksburg on scholarship to play baseball for Virginia Tech, Vice Mayor William Kite presented T.R. with plaque stating:
In Recognition of Your Outstanding Achievements, the Mayor and Town Council of Shenandoah Declares August 16, 2021 as T.R. Williams Day
In addition, PCHS baseball coach Wayne Comer announced during the 30-minute ceremony on Sunday that T. R. will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for Page County High School.
On Monday, the Town of Shenandoah posted the following on their Facebook page:
“The Town is proud to honor this talented young man as he enters this new chapter in his life at Virginia Tech. The Hokies baseball team is lucky to have him join their roster. TR faced and overcame challenges this year that no one could have foreseen. Best of luck to TR as he begins his college career.”