We all know about pitchers who can write: Pat Jordan, Jim Brosnan, Jim Bouton. But there are also a handful of writers who can pitch too. Historian Glenn Stout used to pitch in an over 30 league. Kevin Kerrane pitched semi-pro ball too. And veteran New York sports writer Bob Klapisch has been pitching since he was in college (he used to pitch against Ron Darling when he was at Columbia and Darling was at Yale). For the past couple of years I’ve been meaning to go watch Klap pitch in a game, thinking it would make for an interesting story.
Unfortunately, Klap’s playing career came to an abrupt end last week when he was struck in the right eye by a ground ball. In a recent e-mail, Klap explained what happened:
I was pitching Thursday night in Parsippany NJ for the Morris Mariners, one of the two semi-pro teams I play for. (Hackensack Troasts is the other). Batter hit a hard comebacker which took a wicked bounce over my glove. It was one of those old-fashioned configurations, with a bowling alley-like strip of dirt connected the pitching mound to home plate. So the ball was traveling on dirt, not grass, and must’ve hit a rock. It flew up towards my face, like a stone skipping on a lake. Caught me flush in the right eye.
Had to have emergency surgery that night. It was just my right eye that was damaged. I can do everything (read, write, play with the kids) with the left. The right suffered a partially detached retina, and damaged cornea, which will require a transplant. I also have multiple fractures which will require plastic surgery. The whole process starts on Monday when I go under for repair of the retina. After 3-6 months, the doctors say I’ll have my vision back. Worst case, 20/200, best case 20/50. It sure beats the alternative, which is what I’m experiencing now – a black curtain over the right side of my face. Very strange.
My baseball career is over, so my goal is to play catch in the backyard with my kids. I am determined to make that happen.
Man, talk about a bad break. What a humbling way for the universe to tell you it’s time to stop playing ball. Klap does seem to be taking it exceedingly well, however. And he’s one tough cookie.
Still, it must be a scary spot for him to be in. So here’s sending best wishes to Klap. Let’s hope that his surgeries are a success. Hang in there, Klap, you’re the man.