Monday, June 18, 2012

There it goes....when protection isn't enough.

Three months to the day after my Carotid Artery Surgery I stepped behind the plate Saturday morning on the artificial infield at Celina's Eastview Park....90 days or so after surgery on my neck area for the clogged arteries...I had been umpiring behind the plate for at least 10 weeks off and on, probably some 30-35 games working the 'dish" as we call it.  I had been a little leery early on, going so far as to purchase a new "hockey style" helmet mask for working the plate, and even adding a throat protector and at first extra protection, just to make sure my wounded area stayed protected.   I had lucked out for 3 months, only taking perhaps one hard foul ball off the helmet, and maybe a handful, if that in total...so it was with confidence I had a week or so ago, switch back to my old stance and style behind the plate....then came Saturday.

Sam and I agreed that I would work the first game, between host Celina and Russia{pronounced "Rue Shee'} behind the plate, and he would do the Coldwater/Russia game in the afternoon heat that would surly bake the rubber filled artificial turf on the infield at Montgomery Field.  Two more games would follow, but other umpires would work those...two games are more than enough on days like these.

One thing about the artificial and smooth surface...a batted or thrown ball will scoot with usual a true bounce....and they will go fast.  Even when hitting the turf the ball will actually speed up rather than slow down when first striking the ground....so I'm really not sure what happened when the Celina pitchers uncorked a low fast ball in the top of the 2nd inning.  I do, however, know the result....

The ball hit the rubber surface a few inches in front of the Bulldog catcher and Russia batter...next thing I know, I take a hopping fastball right in the middle of my surgically repaired neck.  Adams Apple time!  As you take a look at the full face helmet pictured, your guess is as good as mine on how it happened.  However I do suspect I jerk my head when the ball hit exposing the small opening between the chest protector and throat guard...which obviously didn't do it's job.  It had to hit me square, because there is not a bruise....and trust me, on the Plavic, even the half dose I am taking these days....I bruise easily.

After the contact, I turned away and walked over to the visiting Russia dugout and got a drink of Gatorade...still not sure how my throat would react...somehow, someway, I continued...while 48 hours have passed, it appears that I have dodged a bullet...{again} somehow, someway.  I finished up both games, Sam and I headed home where I spent the remainder of the evening with liquid refreshments....today the Adam's Apple is still sore, but no bruise, and I can still breath and swallow....lucky bastards I am.

I suspect due to the surgery I have over compensated, and just a week ago last Friday, my umpiring partner, veteran Tim Copsey, had noted to me..."Pat, your are pulling off the ball, and exposing your neck area, you need to be careful, or you will get whacked"....he, it appears, had me tagged just right.  With two weeks of the regular summer season left, then the ACME tournaments into July....I will have to remain vigilant, and monitor my mechanics behind the plate.  I was lucky, the ball, another 2 inches to my right would have hit me square on the area that received the stint...as bad as a ball into the middle of the throat is, it could have been worse...much worse/

Don't tell me to give it up_____

I know, some would say you need to take time off from the game at your age....it's not worth it.  No, that is not an option....I will not sit around in my 60s (63) and retired, and do nothing or things I don't enjoy....life itself is always a risk....at my age, even in pretty good condition for those 63 years, I will not sit by and watch life pass... we are all going to pass from this life, sooner or later, and you can bet, damn straight, if I have my say....I will be active up until the end if possible.  So no, I won't give up baseball, or football...basketball?  Well maybe in a couple of years....but not just yet.  I won't give up good beer or weight lifting, or the other things I enjoy.....

That is not in my playbook.....tonight back at it at Crestview, then tomorrow at LCC.  The slate this week isn't as full as last, so by my standards, that is "taking it easy".

back later>>>>

Photos-In all the years I have umpired, I have never been hit in the neck or throat, until Saturday...and the new mask, for all the protection it provides, was not enough....my post surgery "mechanics" I believe were to blame....(2) the artificial "true" bounce field at Celina's Eastview Park, but the ball like a fast moving bullet when it hits the surface...(3)another view of the Diamond Hockey Mask...I like it...but it still is not total protection.

 

2 comments:

DebiElliot said...

Oh Pat, I feel the same as you about sitting around. I still work at the paper and still playing keyboard. Doing a show at Old Fashioned Farmers Day on June 30. Doing it with a singer guitar player who is with the Memory Lane Band. I play up to 3 nights a week and have fun doing it. When it becomes like a job, I quit!!! Keep up doing what you are doing. You look good, feel good, so something is working for you. I am with you buddie.... keep right on trucking!!!

Olivia Michelle 2011 said...

be careful!