So there's no NBA or NHL playoff games for the second day in a row. Weird. The 'chizzy is about as busy these days as David Ortiz's bat supplier and despite all of my urges to give you an article titled 101 More Things That Would Surprise Me More than Manny Ramirez Apologizing to His Teammates in Five Minutes or Less, you're getting a short and sweet story about my most ridiculous injury I ever suffered while in uniform. Besides, I've been alluding to this little story for too long and too often to keep it bottled up any longer.
Everyone has had or heard stories of ridiculous sports injuries. This story is not about a serious injury, just a sort of funny one. I've seen a teammate die in a freak collision during a practice (consciousness altering), I've seen - and heard - a double compound leg fracture occur from less than two steps away from me (gruesome), I had a basketball teammate celebrate a lay-up with an epileptic seizure (unexpected and scary because he also hit his head pretty hard) and I watched a kid suffer the grandaddy of them all - a ruptured testicle (frightening and nauseating). This story pales compared to those episodes and furthermore this injury occurred to myself, not someone else.
Sporting Anecdotes from the Archive of Personal Experience: My Most Ridiculous Injury
It was late Spring in the year 1990. I was a high school junior and one hell of a first base coach for our baseball team. I didn't get many opportunities to showcase my talents on the field in high school because my school was loaded with fine players at most every position and had a long tradition of baseball dominance and... well, I didn't really have "talents" to showcase until after I graduated and grew into my body. I was tall (6'6") and skinny (180 lbs) and not really matured into my 16 year old body yet. After all, I was a mere 5'6" just four years earlier.
Needless to say - despite my absolute love and obsessive dedication for the beautiful game of baseball - I was not physically adapted to be a successful athlete at this time. I also had the blessing of being born obscenely astigmatic. While I had a sweet, quick stroke with the bat and my mechanics were sound and refined from many obsessive hours of practice my inability to see the ball well failed my other faculties and resulted in some of the finest foul balls and swing and misses ever seen this side of Rob Deer. Because of my delightfully poor eyesight in 1990, I wore some hilariously pathetic appearing and fashion-sinfully designed eyeglasses.
One particular game, we were losing but the score was close and our team was rallying. From my typical cozy position on the bench when our team was on the field I began raising the chatter and initiated a full-out rally cap onslaught. I created the tradition of "Bullhorn Rally Caps" - the adjustable snaps were disconnected and the hat was turned inside out and worn backwards, thus displaying the two plastic ends as protrusions much like horns. In the bottom of the seventh inning (our league only played seven inning games as a regular game) we were down a run with 2 outs when our catcher that day, Mike came to bat. I cheered for him from my typical location in the first base coach's box.
Mike hit a screaming liner into the outfield for sure extra-bases. He was not a speedy athlete but we also played on a field without fences so the ball bounced and rolled a long way. As the opposing team relayed the ball with their multiple cut-off men, a play at the plate was ensuing. Mike slid, got under the tag and the game was tied and we now had the home crowd riled up and momentum on our side.
Players poured off the bench and came to engulf Mike with a team barrage of celebration. I came running in from the first base coach box to join the fracas. Teammates were pounding him on the batting helmet with joy as he returned to the dugout and he was high-fiving everyone. He was fired up and flailing in utter excitement - and then it happened.
Mike high-fived me right in the face! He didn't even see me as his helmet had been smacked down over his own face. He was just swinging where the hands were... and since I was so much taller than everyone else, those hands held high were smack dab at my eye level. And he totally clocked me!
My glasses split, slicing a gash above my nose, right between my eyebrows and up into my forehead. Blood flowed gratuitously onto my face and down to my jersey. We went into extra innings - without me aiding and assisting baserunners - and we won the game as I held gauze and an ice pack on my laceration to stop the bleeding. I probably needed two or three stitches to help close the gaping wound but never got them. It took a long time to heal because of where it was situated between my eyebrows. To this day, I have a scar. Though my emotional wounds from the incident have long healed (that's called 'light sarcasm').
Yes, I've had plenty - perhaps too many - stupid, weird and ridiculous injuries playing sports. But the most ridiculous was the time I was taken out by a high five!!!
- Post Script - For the rest of the season, I shied away from pileups where high fives were being administered. By Spring of 1991, I was examined and fitted with contacts and never again had to live in fear of getting sidelined by an errant high five, or of remaining eternally dateless due to my redonkulous eyewear. That summer, I "got it", put it all together, learned how to "pitch" instead of just throwing, dominated my summer league, took home all kinds of awards and shocked the hell out of everyone who thought I simply sucked and would never progress beyond "sucks". By that fall, I walked onto the baseball team at Temple as a Freshman (not a baseball powerhouse, but a D1 school, nonetheless). Two years later, Mike - whom I had played little league with since we were 12 and his Mom was our coach would follow me and we would once again be teammates at T.U. - he would go on to play in the low minors for the Red Sox for several years until 1999, when he followed me again and came to work for the same company where I was employed... go figure.