"Evans said Martinez was up and talking and did not even seem to have a bad headache. Martinez spoke by phone with his parents in New Jersey, who unfortunately watched on TV as their son got hit." The San Francisco Chronicle
Joan Walsh, along with everybody at the Giants - Brewers game on Thursday, plus those watching on TV had a very scary experience when Giant's pitcher Joe Martinez was hit in the head by a line drive.
Joan wrote about it in a personal post that personally resonated with me. As the mother of a former baseball pitcher, I can relate. And, I can offer some comfort and perspective about the experience ... from the player's point of view.
Much like Joe Martinez, our son was a serious multi-sport athlete from childhood; in baseball a star pitcher. From Little League to city team to state team and beyond.
He played all through high school and was recruited by colleges, faced an agonizing decision. He's under 5'10" and eventually chose business school, believing the odds for long term success were much better there than in professional sports.
So far, the right choice. At 25 he's advancing nicely and pitches for his Unnamed Major Brokerage Company's baseball team. He doesn't regret the decision. At least not out loud.
I tell you all this not to brag (well, of course I'm proud) but to establish his athletic credentials and dedication to baseball, especially pitching. For many athletes, it's literally a calling.
They practice till they drop, throwing pitch after pitch after pitch. They work out, lift weights, attend sports camps which include state-of-the-art sports psychology. They take their training and their playing very seriously.
I also tell you this because Joe Martinez, only a year older, has a parallel background -- they attended competing regional prep schools and the same national sports camp. They played on similar local teams, were recruited by similar colleges.
At 6'2", 195 lbs. though, (yes, probably better, certainly stronger) Martinez chose to pursue the dream, paid his dues in baseball's minor leagues and is showing all the promise of his youthful years.
Back to my son. Because that's where the perspective on Thursday's near-tragedy comes in. At age 12 our son pitched for his team in the state championships, a chance to go on to the Little League World Series, nationally televised live every August from Williamsport, PA.
That game took place at "The Vet," aka Veterans Stadium, a legendary baseball venue, now gone. I got to watch my kid pitch at The Vet from the Phillie's home dugout. Talk about exciting.
But get ready, here it comes: In the fourth inning of a perfect game, our son threw a mean fastball to the half-ton-truck-size catcher for the opposing team. Who hit it back like a rocket ... right into our kid's face.
You could hear his nose break from the stands. He dropped to the mound like a stone.
I was frozen, much like Joan, much as we imagine Mrs. Martinez was Thursday as she watched on TV. Even though I was on site, once you're at the state level and beyond, mommies aren't allowed on the field.
So I watched as trainers and coaches went to him. As he walked off the field on his own, face swollen, blood pouring from his nose. Joined him for ice in the locker room, trip to the hospital. After the tests came back and a sports medicine team cleared him to come home, I finally started to cry.
Was he crying? No. Shaking with fear? No. He was shaken up, sure. But after the initial shock wore off, his focus was on the team. He wanted to know if they won. And when could he pitch next.
Yes, he was young. But old enough to recognize danger and potential consequences. Minimizing risk is something all well-trained athletes learn very early. Especially pitchers and soccer goalies, who stand alone, literally in harm's way. It comes with the territory.
In fact, that was the first of two broken noses, followed by a broken collarbone and three broken ankles, some also from soccer and basketball over the years. Once, on a national team he stayed in goal an entire soccer game on a broken ankle. They won, too.
My point: athletes don't think like you and me. Their mind set makes them necessarily more fearless than the average person. It's calculated courage, all about the game, the team, the ability to get the job done.
Do they worry about injury? Of course. But their nightmares are usually scenes of other players being hit and carried off the field. Their own concern is focused on the downside of not being able to play themselves.
Joe Martinez has been hurt in the past. He's got a concussion and some small fractures in his face. Not great, but tragedy averted. He's on the 15-day Disabled List, another pitcher's been brought aboard.
Martinez may need a little help getting ready for his next outing, but I'm guessing he's already looking forward to it. And is pissed he has to sit out some games and watch new competition.
The next time he's on the mound it'll take a few pitches, then he'll shake it off and you'll see ... it will be business as usual.
We'll all be worried. Martinez won't be thinking about being struck. He'll be concentrating on throwing strikes.
Way to go, Joe. Get well soon. Just stay away from the Phillies.