Sioux Falls, SD
A Sioux Falls man who received a severe head injury on the baseball diamond two decades ago hopes a Minnesota boy who's suffered a similar injury doesn't give up hope on his road to recovery.
Thursday, we introduced you to Trey Brown who was put into a medically-induced coma after being struck in the head with a batted baseball.
Rick Gordon, a former amateur baseball standout, hopes more players and more leagues make the move away from aluminum bats, before anyone else gets seriously hurt.
Rick Gordon was struck on the head, near his right ear, after delivering a pitch during the season opener of the Sioux Empire Baseball League in May 1991. The comebacker fractured his skull, and like Trey Brown, Gordon too, had to be put into a medically-induced coma. But the accident didn't keep Gordon from playing again, and in some ways, he says the ordeal he went through was a blessing.
Twenty years ago this month, Rick Gordon threw a fifth inning hanging slider that rocketed off an aluminum bat and back to the pitching mound.
"I was just at the end of my follow through, so I had my head cocked and the ball hit me square on the right side of the head," Gordon said.
The injury left Gordon with a fractured skull and a blood clot pressing upon his brain.
"And the swelling of the brain was severe enough where my brain was all shifted off to the left side," Gordon said.
It would be 12 days before Gordon regained consciousness. Medications controlled the swelling so doctors didn't have to perform surgery to remove part of his brain.
In the months and years to follow, Gordon suffered from double-vision and seizures. But his remarkable road to recovery eventually led him back to the pitcher's mound just five years later.
"A lot of people were asking me whether I thought about wearing a helmet, and I couldn't do that. To pitch, you have to forget, as hard as it is to do, you can't have that fear," Gordon says.
Gordon says the spiritual strength he gained during his recovery has made him a better husband and father. Gordon's playing days are over now, and he's proud he was able to pitch again years after that fateful game, when life threw him a curve.
"Actually, it was a much better way to end my years of playing baseball was to come back and walk off the field instead of being carried off the field," Gordon said.
Gordon says he's fully-recovered but adds that he sometimes worries about any long-term effects that might surface years from now.