By Rubin E. Grant
Pleasant Grove football coach Jim Elgin had no idea attending one of his son’s baseball games in the spring would lead to such a poignant event as the one the Spartans had Friday.
Elgin’s son Scott plays baseball for Hoover High School and was a teammate of former Buc Ben Abercrombie’s on the Bucs’ 2017 Class 7A championship team.
Elgin showed up for the baseball game wearing a Pleasant Grove football T-shirt. Abercrombie’s dad, Marty, came over to him and wanted to get one of the shirts because he and his wife, Sherri, are Pleasant Grove graduates.
Early this fall, Elgin recalled that conversation after Ben Abercrombie, who also played football for the Bucs, sustained a paralyzing neck injury while playing as a freshman cornerback for Harvard in his first college football game. He was taken to a hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, for emergency surgery to repair a fracture and get the pressure off his spinal cord.
Ben Abercrombie has since been transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to continue his rehabilitation. He is using a motorized wheelchair that he controls with his mouth through a “Sip-and-Puff” system.
After the injury, Elgin’s wife Lori, a Hoover teacher and the Bucs’ former girls basketball coach, led a drive to sell #StandUpForBen T-shirts.
That prompted Elgin to have a ceremonial #StandUpForBen event before Pleasant Grove played Briarwood Christian on Friday, and he invited Marty Abercrombie as the special guest.
Both teams wore crimson-colored #StandUpForBen T-shirts during warm-ups. The ceremonies included a special cheer for Abercrombie. Briarwood defensive line coach Shane Harmon, who coached Abercrombie in youth football, led the crowd in prayer.
Marty Abercrombie joined Elgin and Briarwood coach Fred Yancey on the field during the festivities and was presented a ceremonial game ball. Marty Abercrombie attended the events with his in-laws.
“I am glad we had the opportunity to do it,” Elgin said. “Coach Yancey and the Briarwood family graciously agreed to help in our endeavor to raise awareness and funds to assist the family.
“I think Marty was pleased to see the Pleasant Grove community do this kind of thing for his family and his son, and it was a good chance for him to come back to the school he attended.”
After the proceedings at Pleasant Grove, Marty Abercrombie and friend Chris Cole traveled to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, where the Bucs were playing Thompson.
At the end of the third quarter, Abercrombie was brought onto the field, and when his presence was announced, the crowd rose and gave him a standing ovation.
“It was unbelievable,” Cole said. “The only thing that would have made it more special is if Ben and his mom had been there.”