August 12, 2005

That Hurts

The worst sports-related injury I’ve ever suffered took place about 10 years ago, when on a rainy night I tried to come to a stop on my backyard basketball court and ended up losing my footing and skidding legs first into a wall made of rock and concrete. My right shin hit the wall --which had a fairly jagged surface -- and I ended up with a nice little cut. I went inside to get a band aid with the intentions of finishing my game of hoops, but when my parents saw my leg they turned an odd shade of green and suggested we go see a doctor. It being night time, we decided to consult with a family doctor friend who lived nearby. Upon looking at my leg, he immediately said we would need to go to the emergency room. “That white stuff you can see there is fat,” he said.

So, I ended up with 10 stitches, one of which I later had to remove myself with a pair of scissors and tweezers because the person in the emergency room failed to see it when I had them taken out (I went to Ireland on a school trip the day after the stitches were removed, and instead of having the ordeal of seeing a doctor in Europe, I decided to perform the “surgery” myself).

I bring this story up in part because I wanted to gross you out by talking about how I once could see fat coming out of a wound in my leg, but also to illustrate that on a personal level – and I imagine for many of you it’s the same way – the sports-related injuries we recreational athletes suffer from are small potatoes. After yesterday’s brutal collision between Mets outfielders Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran, which left Cameron with multiple facial fractures, a broken nose and a concussion -- one of the most cringe-worthy sports injuries I can remember seeing in a while -- I got to thinking: What are the worst sports-related injuries of all time? Well, I decided to put together a list. As a means of narrowing things down, I’ve decided to stick to injuries that I actually saw happen or have seen on video. Here’s my top five:

5) Tom Browning’s broken arm in 1994. There have been a number of pitchers over the years who have snapped their arms in the process of delivering a pitch – Dave Dravecky, Tony Saunders and more recently Braves’ reliever Jay Powell, to name a few – but I can think of none more brutal than Browning’s. Though I haven’t seen the footage in a long time, I still can picture the sound of the snap, which I admit may have become worse in my mind's recollection of it than it actually was. One thing I know I haven’t embellished is the sight of Browning crumpling to the ground moments later.

4) Bryce Florie taking a line drive to the face in September 2000. Often the first thing you think of with a sports injury is a collision with another player or a break caused by some sort of awkward impact with the playing surface. It’s easy to forget that in baseball in particular there are all sorts of equipment-related injuries. Perhaps it’s because it was relatively recent, but I can’t think of any baseball-on-player impact more devastating than this one.

3) Braves’ catcher Greg Olson getting plowed over at home plate by Ken Caminiti at Fulton County Stadium in 1992. Okay, so this is not anywhere close to the worst injury on this list, but I include it because I was in attendance at the game. This also represents one of the first (and to date, sadly quite few) TV appearances in my lifetime. In the aftermath of the collision, a TBS camera captured a 14-year-old OCC rubbing fake tears out of his eyes and then pointing downward towards the field where Olson was injured. Can anyone get me footage of this?

2) Moises Alou getting his spikes caught in the turf at Busch Stadium in 1993. In my opinion, this may be the most difficult sports injury to watch on replay that I can think of. Honestly, watching this makes me sick, and I don’t know what else to say about it.

With that said, number one has to go to...

1) Napoleon McCallum’s leg injury in 1994. With apologies to Joe Theismann and everyone else whose leg has been annihilated on the football field, McCallum’s injury is the worst I’ve seen (and I was watching on TV when it happened). When Moises Alou got his spikes caught in the turf, his leg snapped sideways. McCallum’s leg got bent straight back from the force of a pile of players landing on it. The net result: a dislocated knee, three torn ligaments, calf and hamstring muscles ripped from the bone as well as nerve and artery damage. Doctors were worried they would have to amputate, and I even heard in an interview with McCallum that the injury was so severe it could have been fatal.

Makes 10 stitches seem kind of lame.


Anonymous Aimee "Hi" Berg said...

I was watching on TV when Ray Chapman was hit by a pitched ball in the temple and later died from his head injuries. Don't ask me how I got the feed of the game in 1920.

1:17 PM, August 15, 2005  
Blogger jdg said...

Tim Krumrie was as bad as McCallum, methinks.

11:35 AM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some sports injury occurrences can be quite horrific, as in the 5 you've mentioned above. These are all extreme cases that couldn't really be prepared for, yet everyday injuries such as sprained joints, muscle pain and fatigue can all be prevented with an effective warm-up, which is something that many sportsmen and women seem to ignore.

7:05 AM, July 01, 2008  
Blogger datajosh said...

I think I still have the Greg Olson game on VHS because I was there too, I'd have to find a VCR to play it on though!

6:57 PM, January 19, 2012  

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