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Them’s the Breaks

There is a lesson at the end of this. Stick with the story, there might be something here you can tell you kids or grandkids.

Ten weeks ago while playing softball, I hit a high fly ball to the outfield. A lazy fly ball to the left fielder, I thought.

Disgusted, I half walked toward first base. I didn’t look at the ball after that. I didn’t even drop the bat. Easy out. Until …

“Run! Run!,” my teammates implored from the bench.

Half way to first I looked up. The left fielder had his back turned and was running full speed. The ball was still in the air. I’d hit it over his head.

I finally started running.

There was no fence on this field, so when the ball landed it just kept rolling. When I rounded second base, the outfielder was finally throwing the ball in.

“No outs,” I thought while running. “Anthony’s up next. If I stop at third, he’ll get me in. He always does.” I stopped on third base and the ball was still in the outfield. A stand-up triple. Had I been running hard from the start, it would’ve been a stand-up homer.

Anthony has hit behind me for ten years. I have a sense for his hitting. He was going to hit the ball toward right field, away from me. Hopefully he’ll hit a fly ball and I’ll be able to walk in from home. But if he hits a grounder, I’ll still be able to leg it out and score from third before the first baseman can get it to the catcher.

I was right, but with devestating results.

Anthony, indeed, hit the ball to the right side. A grounder to the second baseman. The ball was fielded cleanly and the second baseman threw the ball to first. I took off toward home as I’d done many, many times before.

I knew the first baseman was going to throw the ball home to try to get me out. As I approached the plate, the catcher shifted toward third base and reached his glove toward me, head level. The ball was screaming toward my bean!

I dropped and made a late slide.

My right leg got tangled under my body and folded under my weight. My fibula burst into four or five pieces just above the ankle. The ankle dislocated. My tibia cracked.

I was startled by the sound of it. A crisp clap. SNAP! Some of my teammates on the bench heard it. The umpire heard it.

“Safe,” he called. “It’s broken,” he announced.

Before the dust had even cleared I was crying, “Call 911! Call 911!” And then I just held my hands over my face and said, “Oh. Shit. Oh. Shit. Oh. Shit.” It hurt. A lot. (Though not as much as having a surgeon cut into your scrotum without the benefit of anesthesia. Trust me, I know.)

Later I asked my friend, Unky Rich, “Did I maintain any dignity?”

“None what-so-ever.”

“I didn’t think so.”

I laid on home plate. My friends hovered over me like ephemeral beings of light. They had form, but I couldn’t see them. Some had voices, but I couldn’t hear them. One rolled up a shirt and put it under my head. Someone else gave me water. An ambulance was called.

Eventually, the pain subsided (endorphins are our friends) and I was able to call my wife. “If you were planning on coming to the game, you can forget about it. Instead, I’ll meet you in the emergency room. I snapped my leg in half.”

The paramedics came and I was whisked off to the hospital.

“No lights? No sirens?” I asked.

“No lights. No sirens. People drive screwy when they see the lights or hear us coming.”

“Yeh. I probably wouldn’t want to be in an ambulance racing to the hospital with all the bells, whistles, and lights chiming. I’d rather this.”

They hit a bump. I whinced in pain.

The paramedic put his hand on my arm and asked, “Did we hurt you?”

“No. I’m pretty sure it was that funky slide into home,” I said.

They brought me pretty quickly through the emergency room. My wife was there. Unky Rich showed up soon after.

The doctor advised me that I needed surgery. I had no choice.

I was supposed to stay overnight. I conned him into sending me home.

I had surgery the next day.

But I promised a lesson and here it is:

When playing baseball or softball, after hitting the ball, put your head down and run as fast as you can to first base. If you lope, complain, and pity yourself, there’s a good chance that you’ll break your fucking leg sliding into home. And it’ll be your fault.


August said:

There is nothing better than a good baseball story. I'm just sorry this one ended so badly for you.

Posted on Aug 24, 2005 10:44 PM

Ray said:

"after you hitting the ball"...

Looks like you hurt your head.

Sorry man, otherwise a great parable from the Gospel du Jim.


Posted on Aug 25, 2005 02:20 PM

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