Tragedy puts America’s game in poignant light
By Denise Crosby email@example.com May 1, 2012 7:42PM
Updated: June 3, 2012 8:16AM
I’ve got two pint-size tykes in my life — one a grandson, the other a step-grandson — who run around in diapers just about every waking minute of their lives with a bat and a ball in their hands.
It’s pretty amazing to watch: Like wind-up toys with supercharged batteries, these two toddlers are throwing, catching, hitting and sliding from first thing in the morning until they crash in bed at night — except for those moments they can be wrangled into taking naps or sitting down to eat.
There’s just something about the game when it’s in your DNA.
That’s why the tragic death of Eric Lederman of Oswego tears at my heart. The death of a child under any circumstances is tragic enough. But for a young boy to die from playing the game he loved is particularly cruel.
Especially this game.
And now the conversation has begun on whether this death could have been prevented, despite the fact officials have declared it a freak accident.
But it doesn’t matter what the odds are. We all want to keep our kids safe. And so we have to ask the questions, we have to second-guess the status quo and explore all the ways we could possibly prevent injury, short of surrounding our young athletes with four layers of bubble wrap.
Truth is, no matter how good the protective eyewear is or how well those detachable bases work, as long as little boys are playing the games of little boys, there will always be the possibility they could get hurt — even seriously.
The experts who keep track of these things tell us there are fewer injuries in baseball than other major sports. Maybe. But as a mom who’s logged thousands of hours on stadium bleachers and fields — from kindergarten through college — I can tell you it’s just the opposite. At least from my experience.
The tally is impressive: torn meniscus from diving for a ball. Broken arm from diving for a ball. Broken thumb from, you guessed it, diving for a ball. Broken ankle from a ball coming off a bat. Broken wrist from a wayward pitch. Two black eyes and a bloodied face from a ball hit back to the pitcher’s mound.
These aren’t freak accidents. These are the chances players take when diving or sliding on rock hard ground, or standing with minimal protection anywhere near a hard ball that can travel up to 120 miles an hour.
Surprisingly, except for a case of shin splints that made a linebacker miss most of his junior year, the number of bruises and broken bones from all those years of football is zero. But mention concussion and you’ve not only got this mom’s attention, you’ve got her on a soap box.
I saw too many of them. And they were scary even before the research came in showing the permanent damage that too often hides for years inside the brain. That’s why I can declare with absolute certainty: If I had to do it all over again, I would not let my boys play football.
Yet, despite all those ER visits from Little League, prep and college fields over the years, I can’t say the same for baseball. Not when I watch those little grandsons swing those bats and throw those balls.
Not when the game is in your DNA.