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Athletic Anecdote: Injury Plagued MLB Dreams

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

By Andrew Klegman

It was obvious to me as far back as I can remember that I was destined to be a professional baseball player.
When I attended my very first Red Sox game as a toddler, I asked my mom when I was going to get my turn up at bat. In the first year of little league I was one of the few who could actually catch the ball. I had big expectations entering into the Newton Little League majors.
Of course, like every other kid in the league, I had one dream: to hit a homerun. Sure I had hit my fair share of homeruns in the minors, but none were “true” homeruns. I longed for a slow homerun trot after watching the ball sail over the fence, for the cheers from teammates and fans as I rounded the bases.
I had three years to play in the league. I was bound to hit at least one homerun at some point.
Yet, before I knew it, my three years were done, and I didn’t hit a single one.
I came extremely close twice: once when a ball hit off the top of the fence back into play and another time when an outfielder robbed my ball­­’€my dream, my hope­’€at the edge of the fence.
I was dumbfounded. How was I going to play Division I at Stanford if I couldn’t even hit one homerun in little league majors?
But giving up was not an option, and I looked forward to my future career in senior league baseball, expecting a chance to redeem myself. I would get that chance in the spring of eighth grade, in what turned out to be the greatest sports disappointment of my life.
Eighth grade was a difficult year for me. Plagued by injury, I had broken my ankle in January, and was still recovering by the time baseball season started. As soon as the doctor cleared me to play mid-season, I was back out on the diamond ready to pursue my journey to the MLB.
Unfortunately, trying to be the hero, I returned to the sport too quickly, without sufficient recovery for my ankle; it was nowhere near strong enough to run on. I luckily had not needed to test its limits at first, but then one game I learned the dangers of not recovering properly.
I stepped up to the plate one day in late March at my third game back from injury. Leaning into the first pitch thrown, I clobbered a fly ball deep into centerfield way over the outfielder’s head. I watched it soar, and it was a beautiful sight. As I started to move towards first base I saw the ball drop deep in the park. There were no fences on this field; I had to run, and run fast.
I immediately picked up my pace and tried to speed around the base paths, but there was a problem. My legs were not used to working after three months of rest, and I couldn’t run fast enough.
As I rounded second base, I saw the center fielder still running back to retrieve the ball. Relieved by that sight, I relaxed slightly and glanced at the third base coach. To my surprise, the coach was frantically waving me home.
As I passed him, he screamed, “Hurry up!” Rounding third base, I turned and saw the ball heading towards home plate, my destination, my goal, my dream. I put my head down and sprinted towards the plate, but as I neared the finish line I felt my ankle give out.
Three steps away from my first homerun in five years, I collapsed under my buckling ankle and rolled into home plate. But by that time the catcher already tagged me out. My homerun dream was foiled.
Pain filled my ankle instantly, and defeat settled over me. Whether it was eating the dirt at home plate or getting smacked by the catcher’s mitt, I realized at that moment that Stanford Division I and the MLB were probably not going to happen for me.
To this day, I still love baseball, but now I have a more realistic sense of its place in my future. And though my playing career may end with my high school graduation, I will always remember the base running fiasco that brought me to my senses.

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