Buster Posey and 17 Other Horrific MLB Injuries

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIJune 5, 2011

Buster Posey and 17 Other Horrific MLB Injuries

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 24:  Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants gets ready to catch against the Florida Marlins at AT&T Park on May 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    With the recent injury to Buster Posey during a collision at home plate, it made me wonder what the most horrific injuries were that happened during a game.

    Was the injury caused by a collision, running into a wall, getting hit by a pitch or was it just something freaky?  How was the player after the injury, did their career continue or were they never the same?

    Some of these I remember seeing either when it happened or on a highlight show. Others we only have the stories and the pictures to tell us just how horrific the injury was.

    Here's the list I came up with in no particular order (I find it simply too gruesome to rank these).  Let's start with the injury that everyone, including the Giants owner, are talking about; Buster Posey.

Buster Posey

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    It was a gruesome, but completely legal, collision at the plate that caused Buster Posey to break his fibula and tear three ligaments in his ankle.

    Only time will tell whether Posey will ever be the same, if he'll even ever play catcher again or if MLB will change the rules to protect catchers.

    In my opinion, no rules need to be changed and if a player is a force offensively, catcher isn't the best position for them to play.  

    Yes, their value is actually more as an offensive catcher, but they're just as likely to get hurt by a foul ball or have their knees damaged just by playing than they are in a collision.  Injuries to Joe Mauer and Buster Posey will make other teams think twice about having their best player as their catcher and why the Nationals moved Bryce Harper to a different position. 

Tom Browning

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    In 1994 Tom Browning was pitching for the Cincinnati Reds against the San Diego Padres. 

    While Browning delivered a pitch, everyone heard a loud pop and saw Browning's arm separate from his shoulder. 

    Needless to say, Browning's season was done and Browning pitched in two games in 1995. After attempting more rehab, he never pitched again.

    I was unable to find any pictures of this injury.

Bryce Florie

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    I remember seeing this one happen live on TV.

    A pitcher's biggest fear has to be a line drive coming right back at them.  Well, that's exactly what happened to Bryce Florie.

    Florie was pitching for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees in 2000 when Ryan Thompson hit a line drive back to Florie.  The line drive hit him in the face and broke his orbital socket and cheekbone also causing damage to his retina.

    Florie managed to come back and pitch in seven games in 2001 for the Red Sox but was released.  He continued to bounce around in the minor leagues and the independent leagues, but he was never the same.

JT Snow

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    One of the hardest things to do in baseball is to stand strong in the batter's box against an inside fastball.

    It's even harder when that pitcher is the 6-foot-10 Randy Johnson.

    During spring training in 1997, JT Snow stepped to plate to face Randy Johnson.  Johnson threw a fastball high and inside.  Luckily, Snow was able to deflect it with his wrist first before it hit his face.

    Snow ended up with just a bruised wrist and a swollen eye.  If you remember seeing the highlights, it looked like it should have been much worse.

    How Snow was able to continue playing for years following this incident is truly amazing.  Most of us probably would have never been able to stand in the batter's box again.

Jason Kendall

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    Running to first base to try and beat out a bunt sounds simple right?

    It generally is unless your name is Jason Kendall.

    In 1999, Kendall laid down a bunt and ran to first.  He stepped on the base awkwardly, took a couple more steps and collapsed.

    It was only while he was on the ground that everyone in the stadium realized what happened.  He broke his ankle and part of the bone was sticking out of his skin.

    Jason Kendall would recover and is still playing today (hasn't played in 2011 yet but he is on Kansas City's roster).

Steve Yeager

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    Do you ever wonder why catchers wear something protecting their throat?

    Well, in 1976, Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager was in the on-deck circle, when Bill Russell broke a bat on a swing and part of the bat hit Yeager in throat.

    It had pierced his esophagus and it took over an hour and a half for the doctors to remove the nine pieces of wood from his throat.

    After the injury, Dodgers trainer Bill Buhler invented the throat protector that most catchers wear today.

    Yeager would return from the injury and was named the World Series co-MVP in 1981.

Josias Manzanillo

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    11 May 1997:  Pitcher Josias Manzanizo of the Seattle Mariners stands on the pitchers mound during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Orioles won the game 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger  /Allsport
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Why is it important to wear a cup while playing baseball?

    Without it, you could be in serious trouble.

    This is what happened to Josias Manzanillo in 1997.  Josias was pitching for the Seattle Mariners, when he forgot to where a cup.  Needless to say, Manny Ramirez lined a hit to his groin area.

    Manzanillo was able to throw Jim Thome out at the plate and then jog back to the dugout.  However, he would later have to have a testicle removed because of the injury.

    Manzanillo would continue to play through 2004 and ended up being named in the Mitchell Report.

Bo McLaughlin

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    went on to coach
    went on to coachBrian Bahr/Getty Images

    Line drives just seem to love pitchers' faces.

    In May 1982, Bo McLaughlin was pitching for the Oakland Athletics against the Chicago White Sox.  Harold Baines lined a pitch which hit McLaughlin in the face.

    He ended up breaking his cheekbone, eye socket, jaw and nose.

    McLaughlin would return in September but wouldn't win another game and then would be demoted to AAA where he played for three more seasons before retiring.

Juan Encarnacion

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    DENVER - MAY 28:  Juan Encarnacion #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 28, 2007 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies won 6-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The on-deck circle isn't exactly a safe place to be.

    In August 2007, that's where Juan Encarnacion was standing when his teammate Aaron Miles hit a foul ball that hit Juan in the eye. 

    He would end up suffering multiple fractures to his left eye (according to the team trainer, the socket was basically crushed) and missed the remainder of the 2007 season.

    Encarnacion would never return to baseball.

Luis Salazar

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    You would think being a coach would prevent you from sustaining an injury on the field.

    However, nowhere is safe on a baseball field.

    Luis Salazer played Major League Baseball from 1980 through 1992. 

    As a coach during spring training on March 9 of this year, a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann hit Salazar in the face.

    Salazar would be airlifted to a hospital and would have his eye removed on March 15.

    What's truly amazing is that Salazar returned as the head coach of the Lynchburgh Hillcats (Class A-Advanced League) on April 15.

Dave Dravecky

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    Dave Dravecky was a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.

    In 1988, a cancerous tumor was found in his pitching arm that resulted in the removal of half his deltoid muscle in that arm and his humerous bone being frozen to try to remove all cancerous cells.

    In August 1989, Dravecky returned to the Majors after a stint in the minors.  In his second start back he was pitching against the Montreal Expos, he felt a tingling sensation in his arm in the fifth inning.  In the sixth inning, he was facing Tim Raines when his arm snapped and he collapsed.

    His arm would be broken for a second time that season during the post-game celebration of the Giants winning the pennant.

    Doctors would later discover that his cancer had returned, and Dravecky retired.

    Two years later, Dravecky had his arm amputated.  Dravecky has written two books about his battles with cancer and his attempted comeback. He has also become a motivational speaker.

Robin Ventura

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    27 Feb 1997:  Third baseman Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox throws the ball during spring training in Sarasota, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Plays at the plate aren't just dangerous for catchers, sometimes runners get injured too.

    This is what happened to Robin Ventura in 1997 while playing for the White Sox.

    During spring training, Ventura would slide into home and his cleats would catch in the mud.  He wound up breaking his ankle and dislocating it.

    The injury was so severe and gruesome, it actually caused a fan who saw it to pass out.

    Ventura would return later that season and he continued to play until 2004.

Tyler Colvin

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    Keith Olbermann tweeted this pic of the bat on its way
    Keith Olbermann tweeted this pic of the bat on its way

    Broken bats have to be one of the most dangerous things about baseball.

    In 2010, Tyler Colvin was playing for the Chicago Cubs and was running from third base when a broken bat hit him in the chest.

    The bat ended up puncturing a lung just missing his heart.

    Colvin missed the remainder of the 2010 and has played in 32 games so far in 2011.

Logan Morrison

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    Foul balls are very dangerous.

    In 2010 a foul ball hit Logan Morrison in the eye.  Unlike other players hit in the eye, Logan only had a black eye (you could even see the stitching from the ball on his face).

    Morrison was lucky and was able to return the next day.

Rick Ankiel

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    Running into a wall, while it looks great, can cause major injuries.

    This is what happened to St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Rick Ankiel in May 2009.

    Ankiel crashed into a wall while making a catch and collapsed.  He was later carted off the field with his neck immobilized.

    Luckily his injuries weren't that serious.  He suffered whiplash and returned 17 days later.

Tony Conigliaro

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    Have you ever wondered why batting helmets have an ear flap?  Tony Conigliaro is why.

    On Aug. 18, 1967 Tony Conigliaro was batting for the Boston Red Sox against the California Angels.  He got hit by a pitch in the left cheekbone.  It resulted in a fractured cheekbone, a dislocated jaw and damage to his retina.

    Conigliaro would return a year later, won Comeback Player of the year in 1968 and hit career highs in home runs and RBI in 1970.

    However, the damage to his eyesight eventually forced him to retire in 1975.

Ray Chapman

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    The second worst on-the-field injury in baseball history happened in 1920.

    Ray Chapman was batting for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees in August 1920. 

    The Yankees submarine pitcher, Carl Mays, threw a pitch and it hit Chapman in the head.  The sound of it was so loud, Mays thought it his bat and he fielded the ball and threw to first.

    Chapman collapsed, then he got up and collapsed again and had to be assisted off the field.

    Ray Chapman would die twelve hours later in the hospital.

    Back then, the ball wasn't removed if it got dirty or misshapen like it is now.  Pitchers actually did everything they could to "dirty" up the ball because it causes it to change direction.  There is speculation that this is why Chapman didn't move out of the way; he simply didn't realize it was coming at him. 

    In the season following Chapman's death, baseball outlawed the spitball and required all "dirty" balls to be removed (though it would still be 30 years before the use of helmets was mandatory).

    Chapman was the second player to die on a Major League Baseball field.  The next slide discusses the first. 

Mike "Doc" Powers

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    The first Major League Baseball player to die from injuries sustained on the field was Doc Powers.

    In April 1909, Powers was a catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics.  In the first game at Shibe Park, he crashed into a wall catching a foul ball.

    The crash caused internal injuries which required three surgeries on his intestines.  Two weeks after the crash, Powers died from peritonitis from the surgeries.

    As this slide show has shown, there is no such thing as a safe place on the field or a safe play.  Players have been injured running to first, running home, standing in the on-deck circle, making a catch or simply getting it by a pitch.  Sadly, most of these are considered "simply part of the game."  While some have caused rule changes, others have simply been freak injuries.  Here's hoping that no one else ever dies because they are playing a game.