This weekend marked the five-year anniversary of my all-time greatest baseball injury. Fellas, if you ever want to really endear yourself to your fiancée, break your arm exactly two weeks before your wedding day. She’ll thank you for it, and you’ll thank me for the advice.
I had actually thought it’d be tough to break any bones playing baseball. I am (or, I was) a pitcher, and it’s generally a non-contact-enough position that the only way I could break my arm would be to trip over my shoe laces. In college, I once took a line drive off my cheek bone without it breaking (it left some cool lace marks on my face, however), so I figured a pretty remedial adult league in Flagstaff, Arizona should be a pretty safe proposition.
So, pitching on a mere eight years’ rest, I threw six decent innings (we didn’t lose too many baseballs over the outfield fence, anyway) in the first game of the season. The following morning, my arm hurt. Rather a lot, in fact. More than I remembered it hurting in college, where – by the end of the season – my right arm was tired enough that it couldn’t lift my gym bag at the end of practice. It hurt a little less as the week progressed, but still enough that I opted out of pitching the next game and actually saw a doc—er, physician’s assistant, who suggested that perhaps my arm was, well, sore from pitching.
So I opted out of being the starting pitcher in the following game, but as luck would have it, our starting pitcher, to quote Crash Davis in “Bull Durham”, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. So into the game I went. We’ll let Vin Scully take it from here:
“A beautiful, albeit hot, day under the cerulean blue skies of Camp Verde, Arizona… There’s still plenty of baseball left, so if you’re driving by the ballpark, do stop on by…
All right. Teich, the new pitcher, faces a doozy of a situation. Nobody out and the bases full. He gets the sign, comes to the belt, kicks and deals… And Teich is down! There was a loud snap, and Teich is on the ground between the mound and home plate, and the ball is rolling towards the third base line… And he looks like he’s in some serious pain! Folks, don’t forget, Flagstaff Pioneers baseball is brought to you by Pep Boys…”
Forty-five minutes later (a 45 minutes that seemed even longer than the time it took to get Sylvi to sleep this evening), the paramedics came, scraped me off the field, and took me to the hospital, where they took x-rays and left me in an exam room for an hour, until the doctor walked in and said, “You did this throwing a pitch?” Anyway, he was most impressed that I had managed to accomplish a spiral fracture of my right humerus merely by throwing a ball. My then- fiancée came in the room next. She was less impressed.
The wedding happened as scheduled, or at least I’m told it did, as the Vicodin made things a little hazy. I do remember wearing a nice formal-looking grey sling in addition to my tuxedo. My groomsmen wore slings, too, just to make the pre-wedding pictures more entertaining.
The wedding night and honeymoon were a little different than planned – the jacuzzi suite, for example, would have been more useful, if I had been allowed to actually get in the jacuzzi. When we made it to Maui, we actually rigged up a bandaging system to keep my arm from flopping around, shark bait-style, when I went snorkling. Since I was working with only one arm, however, my wife had to kind of tow me around the lagoons.
We spent the second week of the honeymoon on Lanai, during which I became proficient at taking pictures one-handed. Lanai was also a small enough community that I quickly ran into the other guy on the island who had broken a bone before his wedding. He was on crutches, and we saw each other a few times, sheepishly nodding to each other each time, knowing full well our wives were probably exchanging exasperated eye-rolls behind our backs.
I haven’t played much baseball since then. I played a few games the next season – at first base. But there’s a sort of limited use for a 5’6”, right-handed first baseman. So I’ve sat out the past couple of seasons. But I’m starting to get the itch again. And hey, if I work at it, I’ll really be ready by next spring. And I’ll be pitching on six years’ rest…