Sports fans know that injuries happen; however, some sports injuries are downright shocking. There are also injuries to athletes that have nothing to do with the game at all, as in the case of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. However, it seems the most tragic and shocking sports injuries are those that occur out of nowhere.
The most recent is Chicago Cubs rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin. During a game with the Florida Marlins, Colvin was impaled in the chest by a splintered maple bat shard. Colvin was on third base when his teammate, Welington Castillo, swung hard to hit a double and split his bat in the process, sending a splinter directly toward Colvin’s heart. The splinter was just inches from Colvin’s heart, and he was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and kept for observation in stable condition.
Sports injuries are expected, but the shocking ones remain in our memories forever. Clint Malarchuk’s life was almost ended when his jugular was sliced open during a hockey game between the Sabres and the St. Louis Blues. A six-inch gash opened up Malarchuk’s main artery when the skate of another player caught the side of Malarchuk’s neck. The incident caused nine fans to faint and left others in a state of shocked disbelief.
“The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget” was the winner of ESPN’s poll of the most shocking moments in NFL history. That was the moment in 1985 during a “Monday Night Football” game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins that legendary quarterback Joe Theismann played his last game. I was still in high school, but I remember watching as linebacker Lawrence Taylor hit Theismann, but what happened next confirmed that Theismann was in serious trouble. Taylor leaped up and rushed to the Washington sidelines signaling for help. Theismann’s right leg was fractured, with part of the tibia sticking out of his skin. Dan Diedorf, Hall of Fame offensive lineman, said later that he was watching from home and “that night, what you saw was so graphic, and when you watch something that’s so far out of the normal, you just gag, but you almost can’t help watching it again and again.”
The most tragic and shocking sports injuries are those that take our athletes from us. This was the case when NASCAR lost its beloved Dale Earnhardt at 49 during the 43rdDaytona 500 in 2001. Earnhardt’s car was involved in a pileup coming around turns 3 and 4 of the last lap of the race. Earnhardt was rushed to Halifax Medical Center but all attempts to resuscitate him failed. Even those of us who are not NASCAR fans mourned the loss of such an outstanding athlete.
“Tyler Colvin Injury: Cubs Player Impaled By Bat” (The Huffington Post, 9/19/10)
Zampogna, Mark. “Seconds of Infamy, Malarchuk’s horrific accident still etched in memory” (LetsGoSabres.com 3/21/07)
Shapiro, Leonard. “The Hit That Changed a Career” (The Washington Post, 11/18/05)
Rodman, Dave. “Earnhardt dies following Daytona 500 accident” (Turner Sports Interactive 2/21/01, NASCAR.com)