Son's throw really knocked him out

April 01, 1999|By KEVIN COWHERD

IN SPRING, a man's thoughts turn to baseball and throwing the ball around with his 7-year-old. And when a man's thoughts turn to throwing the ball around with his 7-year-old, his next thought is often: "Where's the nearest emergency room?"

This, basically, was what came to mind the other day after my son and I got out the gloves and ball and started playing catch in the back yard.

At the same time, the 13-year-old appeared on the deck with her boom box and began listening to a CD by Jewel or Brandy or Tiffany or Amber or one of those annoying people she listens to.

Anyway, whatever CD she was listening to, it was cranked up pretty loud. And this was interfering with the peaceful, relaxing nature of what the 7-year-old and I were doing: the rhythmic back-and-forth of the horsehide, the ball arching against the brilliant blue sky and landing with a satisfying thwack! in the soft leather of the glove and blah, blah, blah.

In any event, I finally turned to the 13-year-old and said: "Sweetie, could you turn that down a little bit?" As I said this, with my head cocked in her direction, I experienced a feeling of pure terror. I thought: At this very moment, there is a baseball speeding toward my head. It will arrive in approximately one-one-hundredths of a second. And it will hurt. It will hurt real bad.

The reason I knew there was a baseball hurtling toward my head was because I am a seasoned veteran of playing catch with 7-year-olds.

When a 7-year-old is ready to throw the ball, he throws the ball.

It doesn't matter if the other person is ready to catch the ball. It doesn't even matter if the other person has his eyes open. A 7-year-old could play catch with a corpse -- all he needs is a body to aim at when he fires that pill.

Sure enough, about one-one-hundredths of a second after all these thoughts ran through my head, the ball arrived at my head.

It slammed into the area directly above my left ear.

And I went down as if someone had whacked me with a skillet.

This set off the usual chorus of "Daddy's dead! Daddy's dead!" which my kids start wailing whenever they see me in a prone position, even if I'm just lying on the couch.

At this, my wife came running out of the house and a neighbor came running over and said: "Are you OK? Maybe you should go to the emergency room."

To which I replied, despite the cobwebs forming in my brain: "No way, pal."

Because my philosophy on emergency rooms is this: Unless you have a major injury -- unless, say, your arm has just been severed at the shoulder and blood is spurting like a geyser -- you'll sit there for hours before you see a doctor.

This is something I learned the hard way. Some years ago, I ended up in the emergency room with a compound fracture of my leg.

"Fill out this form, then take a seat," said the bored Nurse Ratched behind the desk, promptly going back to her John Grisham novel.

So I hobbled over to the waiting area, my leg throbbing, feeling sorry for myself.

Then I noticed that the man sitting next to me was holding a handkerchief to his eye.

This, he explained, was because part of his eye was currently hanging from the socket, courtesy of a fishhook accidentally imbedded there by one of his buddies.

Think about that for a moment.

Here is a man with half his eye hanging out of the socket. And they're telling him to take a seat!

Look, if you can't get treated right away with an eye hanging out of the socket, you have absolutely no shot of seeing a doctor in this millennium if you're whacked in the head with a baseball.

Instead, you'll end up sitting for hours on those hard plastic seats watching "Days of Our Lives" on a grainy black-and-white TV or thumbing listlessly through 3-year-old copies of People.

Anyway, after I nixed the trip to the ER, my wife said: "Put some ice on it."

This is her standard solution to any injury.

I could walk into the house with a javelin sticking through my head, and my wife would say: "Put some ice on it."

The good news is: I didn't get a concussion and the word "Rawlings" isn't permanently etched in the side of my head.

The bad news is: The 7-year-old wants to throw the ball around again today.

Right now, I'm thinking of some kind of protective headgear, maybe something like a hockey goalie wears.

Sure, it might hurt the kid's self-esteem, seeing his dad in a goalie mask 20 feet away.

But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Pub Date: 4/01/99

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