Confessions Of A Ball Park Chaser – 2015 Edition Part 2: Why I will See 220+ MLB Games in 2015
We finished off earlier in the week about the chance for me to play NCAA Baseball that was foiled by knee problems and concussions. Looking at reconstructive knee surgery in late 1994, I was seeking a second and third opinion on the matter. If you have to read that blog to catch up it is available right here.
On a night in Sept of that year I was in the wrong place at the wrong time helping a friend move. I was a victim of a serious home invasion. It was truly a life or death situation at points. It ended with all of receiving baseball bats to the back of the head before they left.
In the minutes after it was over, I was on an adrenaline rush, so I never realized how much damage had been done with the impact. I did go to the hospital that night, but we never wanted to divulge that much information about what happened to us. I was given some painkillers, and I passed a quick eyeball test with the doctor in the emergency room.
I stayed up for almost 2 days straight. Previous head injuries had told me not to sleep that much if all. I drank alcohol and took painkillers. at will.
When I went to work 3 days later, I knew I was in trouble. I started having vision problems and felt nauseous. Within 3 months – I stopped working entirely and didn’t want to leave the house at all. I never went to my knee appointments, as I had gone through similar symptoms with my brain after a concussion at 16. Worse part of the whole ordeal, was not demanding a CT scan on the night of the incident.
In the spring of 1995, I was trying out for our 18 – 20 year old league in the area. Some of the guys were part of the camp we had each year. After one practice, it was apparent I couldn’t handle the training mentally or physically. I wanted to keep playing baseball but was at a loss how to do so.
A friend in Calgary had a dad who helped me eating, nutrition, and training back in when his son and I were teammates with Chris Reitsma. I thought that maybe I should play in the 16 – 18 year old league in Calgary. It was a step down in competition from the coast, and the league has a Designated Hitter Position.
With not having to field, I made the club, and played 20 games from April to May of that year. I was fortunate to have lived with my friend and his Dad in Calgary. I lost all of the extra weight I had gained from the last couple of seasons.
The left knee was even holding up. I was learning how to do Tai-Chi, and it helped strengthen the joints a little.
I was introduced to an over the counter painkiller, that contained Acetaminophen and Codeine. I was happy that I didn’t have to see the doctor to receive a pill that was similar to a Tylenol 3.
I knew the end was coming for baseball. The concussion symptoms were still running rampant. It made it so that all I could do was play baseball and then recover. Sooner or later I needed to move on with my life.
Our team was good winning fourteen and losing once through May, and I hit almost .500 through my 1st 15 games.
In a doubleheader in early June – I smashed the living hell out of the ball for two games, going 7 – 9 with 5 extra base hits. Our team outscored the other team 32 – 7 in the 2 contests. I was at 1B after a single in my last AB.
With a 6 run lead in the last inning, my coach asked me to steal second, with another runner occupying 3rd, no one was covering me. We were up by 7 runs. I refused to take the base. it was insulting to other team if we would have done that to begin with, after beating them so badly that day already. I was pissed off why the coach would ask me to do this considering he knew I had a bad knee?
Before the next game 2 days later, I was benched for a game based on that. The only reason I got into the contest was because the DH got hurt. I lined out a scorcher to 1st.
I was pulled aside again, and told I would be benched for another 2 games because I sulked during that game. Normally I was the most vocal teammate – and other teams hated to play because I would never shut my mouth.
It was my breaking point that some volunteer coach was making these decisions on me. The Manager of the club sided with me, but didn’t want to lose his volunteer, and told me to handle it. I quit that day. I was done.
Other than a softball tournament with my brother that summer, I never played in an organized game after that. To add a little more dreary to the situation, the annual baseball camp never came that year. I was looking to have one last crack as a hitter, and more importantly, I wanted to be a coach for a few clinics the following week.
I moved back to Vancouver – and went to the doctor again, requesting a CT Scan. I was having vision problems due to headaches. I was told that I could never play sports again, or anything physically demanding, because of the accumulative effect of so many hits to the head.
Having a concussion is having a bruised brain. Modern research has come a long way, and we understand them more than ever before, but the healing process is never a given.
Some people (like me) have trouble sleeping, and a major sensitivity to light. Other long-term problems were ‘white spiders’ dancing around my head whenever I exerted to fast in a direction, or simply tied my shoelaces hovering over, and then rising too fast. When I am tired, my eyes puff up making it hard to see, and I fight migraines.
IWhile still followed baseball from 1996 – 2004, but just couldn’t take myself to set foot near any baseball field. I went hardcore after a health regimen that saw my reach my best weight since I was 15.
I quit drinking in 1999, and met a girl that I married in 2000. Life was decent, and I was able to cope with the head stuff. My health was good if I didn’t push it.
My knee was still in ruin, and I had to wear on knee brace on my wedding day in 2002, but no complaints. After 9 – 11 in 2001, I took a second job as a courier – where I walked 4 – 6 miles a day. I almost quit after a week because of the physicality of it all. About 18 months later, My knee muscles were so strong, I was able to lose the knee brace. To this day, I haven’t had to bring it back either. Since I wasn’t playing sports from my head injuries, there is no need to have surgery and be out for a year from work.
To numb the headaches, the over the counter codeine pills worked. They are strong enough to be banned in the USA, but Canada allows them. To the present day, it is the only medication that works to combat my migraines. I had bouts where I abused them in the mid – to later 90’s, but I slowed down once I started walking for the courier job.
There is no doubt in my that walking in open air has helped me with all concussion stuff.
In 2004 I listened to a motivational speaker. If you want to read about how he influenced my life click here. The point was hammered home that I should not be mad about my life situation, no matter how much I wanted to be
I realized that the game never injured me at all. It was life choices, and a lack of coaching knowledge to prevent injuries that did. Having such a troubled teenage life, I can honestly say I would have never graduated if I never thought there was a chance to play baseball beyond that.
It was my outlet to meet people growing up, the lifeblood of my being as a leader doing whatever I did. Playing for 13 years was a blessing and not a curse.
I had ignored the true essence of being for almost 10 years at that point. I now wanted to go to baseball games again. I wanted to be at the baseball yard again. I remembered them being so pivotal in my life when I was kid, I didn’t have to play for that happiness, I just to be there.
From 2005 – 2007, I visited 20 of the 30 MLB Parks. Each time I visited a new ballpark I felt at home. Among the many things I had done from 1996 – 2004, was to study the USA geographical map like crazy. My step-mom is a former airline executive, and we would talk about travel at all time.
Back then my traveling was very limited. Hitting Age 28 I had been to Washington State. Hawaii and California only. My love for travel only grew as I headed for more parks.
In 2005, I had suffered years of bad luck financially, claiming bankruptcy, and looking for a new line of work. I would have to wait until 2007 to do this. I had one last trip in the summer of ’07, and just before i switched to something else I discovered a rental car loophole that changed my business from losing money every month from 2001 – to profiting every month since Oct.’07 (except a few months in 2012).
If you want to read about the success of how I did this, read the same link as the motivational speaker one above. It enabled me to break the World Record for “Fastest to See All 30 MLB Parks” in 2009, after a failed bid in 2008.
My wife and I unfortunately separated after my 2008 trip because of differences that had been out of both our control. It was the toughest decision I had ever made in my life, but it turned out to be the right one for each of us.
In Sept 2010, my whole world was to be turned upside down again. That very day I had purchased the ability to publish my 3rd novel. This one was going to be the baseball travel book. I was at work when an alcohol induced man, nailed my car going 45 – 55 MPH. The Toyota Corolla’s rental car bumper was caved all the way into trunk. I was waiting to turn left into a shopping mall.
The next 72 hours were a blur. I took my girlfriend to a game in Seattle at Safeco Field, after a doctor visit revealed I suffered yet another slight concussion. Again, the adrenaline of the moment had clouded how bad I was hurt. While driving down the street to park, I couldn’t speak without a stutter and had serious dizzy spells.
I never thought I would have been so impacted considering I never hit my head at all in the accident. I was later explained that my entire body was jolted so fast by the surge, that I incurred the concussion through connectivity to my arms and back muscles.
I was told by my doctor to take months off of work, not just days. The insurance company refused to pay for anything and dug in for a long fight, and I had no choice but to work or go bankrupt again.
I tried going to my pizza delivery job for the next 3 months ( I couldn’t drive with a lot of traffic), and couldn’t do it. I quit on XMAS eve of 2010. I could still do my courier job, with less traffic at night. That December, I slipped on the ice and cracked my head on the pavement again. It was concussion #9.
The next 10 months were a mess. I forced myself to write my baseball book, but it wasn’t my best writing work. I was lucky to have had 2 co-authors help me, and a lot of the material I had written before the accident.
A friend sent me the link for the 2011 MLB Fancave. I wasn’t feeling hot about life back then, but took a whole weekend to produce a 2 minute video for submission. I hadn’t seen or visited anyone in months, and was barely getting through days. My saving grace was my dog Dennis was always there for me, hanging at the house.
I made it to the 2nd round of auditions for the Fancave. It was a huge confidence boost for me. To help my profile, I developed my own website, and joined Twitter. There was one problem. I literally couldn’t cobble two sentences together. Other people noticed so many errors in my writing, it frustrated me. I have never been accused of having the world’s best grammar, but I usually could write comprehensively.
I was annoyed by it – and quit writing for months. I didn’t win the Fancave either, but quickly made friends with the winners – Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner. I even had a blog written about me, joining their movement, in Ryan being called ‘Thickish’ in his fan interview with Mitch “Wild Thing’ Williams.
Soon, I gained a lot of Twitter Followers, and in the summer of 2011, my book came out. It had been a battle with the publishers to get it right, and they still never corrected formatted the way I wanted, but it was well received as a learning tool, and interesting read. Another confidence booster.
Through the Fancave guys I met the former owner (Jonathan Hacohen) of this website, and he did a book report and follow up interview. Later that year, he asked me to do a written article about the 2011 World Series Parks (Busch Stadium and The Ballpark In Arlington). I hesitated at first, but gave it a shot.
It wasn’t one of my better blogs ever, but Jonathan asked me to do another article, and before I knew it, I was writing 2 or 3 a week for him. He gave me some pointers and worked with me how to use Word Press.
About this time, I was still doing my courier job and waiting for a settlement in my accident, now over a year old for a case. I was having a tough time making ends meet, but I also had a second job as a Sports Handicapper consultant. About the time I started writing for this website, I went on the biggest win streak of my life, making lots of money for a lot of people through the NFL and NHL.
Added with this, was an influx of 50% profit at my courier job, with my route being expanded due to construction homes being completed.
In Sept of 2011, I had decided to tackle the MLB Schedule like I never did before. The MLB Fancave had me thinking of a ‘travel concept’ where someone would go to a game each day at the MLB Parks for an entire year. Initially, I wanted to pitch it to the MLB, but my writing was off, and I never wanted to hand in anything haphazard. I also was planning to do this with my insurance settlement in 2012, if I ever were to be paid out for it. Neither came to fruition.
My physical health was taking a hit with never having that 6 months off. With increased production at the courier job, my body felt the crunch. I needed some time away to heal. If not 6 months, than at least a few months. I made enough with handicapping to chase my own record in 2012’s opening month.
I came back from that in May of 2012 in a lot better shape. I lost 20 LBS in that streak – and felt good for a few months before the symptoms returned stronger.
It took until June of 2013 to be paid my insurance settlement. That hurt big time, and the money didn’t change me struggling with concussion symptoms that summer and beyond.
Posted on January 17, 2015, in ballpark roadtrips, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2011 World Series, baseball road trip advice.., calgary, Chris Reitsma, Chuck Booth, citi field, concussion symptoms, concussions in sports, home invasion, jonathan hacohen, mike o'hara, MLB FANCAVE, MLB roadtrips, motivational speakers, new York, pnc park, ryan wagner, safeco field, seattle, the fastest 30 ball games, wrigley field, yankee stadium. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.