Special to the Review
The Athens Review
Athens senior baseball player Gabe Gross was awarded the Fred Head, Jr. Baseball Scholarship by Fred’s brother, Athens Lawyer Mike Head at last Monday night’s Athens Sports Banquet.
Fred Jr. was an All District Honorable Mention first baseman for the Athens’ Hornets on coach Gerald Woods’ great teams in 1981, 82 and 83. He loved baseball almost more than life itself and continued to play for the Hornets in March, April and May of 1983 after coming down with his eventual fatal illness.
Fred Jr., who was known by his friends as “Bud”, died in June 1986 at the age of 21 after a gallant three-year battle with Hodgkin’s Disease Cancer.
He began his love affair with baseball as an outstanding Austin, Texas Little League catcher in 1971, while his father Fred served fourteen years as a State Representative in The Texas Legislature.
Fred’s mother Marsha Head, in a letter to Texas Ranger’s Manager Bobby Valentine, wrote about Fred shortly after he died and said, “On June 27, 1986, our 21 year old son went home to live with Jesus. On Sunday, June 29th, his body was buried at a little country cemetery, taking with him his prized possession, his Ranger cap. For three years and three months he had fought a courageous battle against cancer. And the loss of his beautiful thick hair, which all the girls loved, was just a small part of the physical and mental torture he endured as a loyal solider of his cancer war.”
Fred Jr. loved the Texas Rangers and told his friends that the Rangers were keeping him alive. One of his best friends on the 1983 Athens High School baseball team said minutes after Bud passed away, “Well, he doesn’t have to worry about Ranger tickets — now he has a season pass.”
As Fred continued to fight his disease, he lived his life to the fullest, attended his Senior Prom his, High School Graduation, was Elected President of the Freshman class at Trinity Valley Community College, was Cardette Head Escort, was Student Senate President and won the President’s award as outstanding graduate in 1985. At the time of his death he was a licensed real estate agent.
Fred Jr.’s friend Mickey Navarro said, “He never complained about his disease. In fact, he showed more concern for the aches and injuries of others. After Fred died we decided we need to keep seeing each other. We found that we needed each other. Losing Fred left a tremendous void in our lives.
Stephen Esparza, Fred’s friend, said shortly after his death, “Fred was a father figure to us all. We looked up to him.” He led a Christian life and made no attempt to hide his feelings about doing what was right. He didn’t want to see any kind of behavior but the best from his friends.”