Rockies Go To Bat For College Coach With Rare Cancer

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A college baseball coach, battling a rare form of liver cancer, got some encouragement Tuesday from the pros. Three Colorado Rockies players surprised him at the University of Colorado Hospital. It was a moment to remember.

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Tony Wolters shakes hands with Luke Kalb (credit: CBS)

Colorado Rockies Players: “Surprise!”

Luke Kalb: “Oh, wow!”

Carlos Gonzalez: “What’s up Luke?”

Luke Kalb: “How’s it going guys?”

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Cargo Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra and Tony Wolters meet Luke Kalb (credit: CBS)

Luke Kalb played it cool, but he was clearly shocked to open the door to a conference room and see Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, aka Cargo, left fielder Gerardo Parra and catcher Tony Wolters. The trio was fresh from a much-needed win.

“I heard you were there yesterday. You bring us luck!” said Gonzalez.

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Coors Field (credit: CBS)

Kalb and his family were treated to Club Level seats for Monday’s game. They even got some pre-game time on the field and a personalized welcome message on the video board. It was courtesy of UCHealth’s “Moments to Shine” program.

Tuesday, Gonzalez brought Kalb his own Rockies jersey and CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh was there for the surprise.

“So you can wear it whenever you go to the games,” said Gonzalez.

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Luke Kalb shows off his Colorado Rockies jersey (credit: CBS)

“Kalb, (is written) right on the back,” said a delighted Kalb.

What a story he has to tell the boys back home in Iowa. Kalb is pitching coach for the University of Dubuque Spartans. The team wears “All for Kalb” shirts as he goes to bat against an extremely rare form of liver cancer called Fibrolamellar.

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(credit: University of Dubuque Sports Information)

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(credit: University of Dubuque Sports Information)

“We estimate about 70 new cases in the United States about 200 new cases in the worldwide per year,” said Dr. Stephen Leong, medical oncologist and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

He is treating Kalb at the University of Colorado Hospital in a clinical trial of an experimental drug.

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(credit: CBS)

“His cancer has shrunk and it still remains small,” said Leong.

Kalb comes to the hospital every month, but hanging with the pros was a first!

Walsh: “He (Kalb) told me the Rockies are his second favorite team.”

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Cargo Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra (credit: CBS)

Gonzalez: “Who’s number one, Luke?”

Kalb: “The Cubs”

Wolters: “We kicked the Cubs butt earlier so…”

And on this day, the Rockies scored big with Kalb.

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CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Stephen Leong, medical oncologist and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (credit: CBS)

“They’re battling you know to make the playoffs, to come support me means a lot, a lot,” said an emotional Kalb.

Tuesday’s surprise means the world to him and his biggest fans, his family. All three Rockies were charming and kind. They told Kalb to stay strong and positive.

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(credit: CBS)

Wolters said visiting the hospital brings them back to reality “We’re all about baseball, but we’re all about our fans, too.”

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(credit: CBS)

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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