Ohio State pitcher and Piketon graduate Zach Farmer passed away on Tuesday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 21 years old.
After being named an All-American during his senior year at Piketon, Farmer accepted a scholarship to pitch at Ohio State. Midway through a stellar freshman season with the Buckeyes, Farmer began feeling ill and fatigued. After a doctor’s visit, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on April 28, 2014.
Farmer immediately began chemotherapy treatments and was declared cancer-free on June 6, 2014. Two months later, he received a bone marrow transplant and began preparing for a return to baseball.
Despite battling a weakened immune system and intense side effects from various medications, Farmer told the Daily Times in May that he hoped to return to the mound at Ohio State in the fall. That same month, he took the mound to throw out the first pitch at the Buckeyes’ “Be the Match Day” game in a doubleheader against Morehead State.
However, on July 15, Farmer received news that his leukemia had returned, and that his chance of survival was slim.
Despite the grim diagnosis, Farmer made the most of his final days. He married his girlfriend, Kelsie on July 19 and and celebrated his 21st birthday on July 27.
Farmer also had the opportunity to to speak to his boyhood idol, former MLB pitcher Randy Johnson. Johnson called him in late July, and the two talked baseball for a few hours. Later in the week during his Hall of Fame induction speech, Johnson shared Farmer’s story with the world.
“Zach, I love you. I’ve never met you before, but hang in there,” Johnson said from the podium in Cooperstown.
A public vigil for Farmer will be held on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Piketon High School. Donations are still being accepted at any Atomic Credit Union to the “Farmer Family Fund,” which go directly to family expenses. Donations are also being accepted through Ohio State at ZF11.org.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter