Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Heart Of An Athlete

Former Angels star and batting champion Rod Carew is still recovering from a heart and kidney transp(Rod Carew, LA Times)
Konrad Reuland sits on the Ravens bench during an exhibition game against Atlanta.(Konrad Reuland, LA Times)

A moving story from the Los Angeles Times.  In December 2016 29 year old NFL tight end Konrad Reuland died from a ruptured aneurysm.  Three days later 71 year old baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew received Konrad's heart.
“Something in me, I don’t know why, but maybe it’s a mother’s instinct . . . I just laid my right ear on his chest and listened to his heart beating all day, from morning until we had to leave,” Mary said. “I memorized it. And I said, ‘I hope I get to hear this again one day.’ ”

Less than three months later, Mary stood arm-in-arm with her husband, Ralf, and youngest son, 24-year-old Austin, in the backyard of their San Juan Capistrano home, eagerly awaiting the first meeting with the man who received Konrad’s heart and a kidney in a 13-hour operation on Dec. 16.

From a walkway on the side of the house on that sunny Thursday afternoon emerged Rod Carew, the 71-year-old Hall of Fame baseball player, holding the hand of his wife, Rhonda, as he ambled toward the Reulands.

Carew, who survived a massive heart attack in 2015, hugged the Reulands. After some small talk, they moved inside, where Rod, sitting on the family room sectional, handed Mary a stethoscope belonging to Ralf Reuland, a doctor.

Mary placed the device on Carew’s chest and listened for about 15 seconds. Her eyes reddened as her head sank into Carew’s shoulder.

“It was comforting in a way to hear that again, knowing that part of Konrad is still here,” Mary said. “I didn’t know until this happened that every heartbeat, like a fingerprint, is unique. It was definitely Konrad’s heart in there.”

Read the whole story.

Carew was, along with George Brett, the outstanding hitter for average in the American League during the 1970s.  I saw him play in person at a game in Fenway Park on September 3, 1980.  I decided late in the afternoon to go to Fenway to see the game and being on my own and with the Red Sox not the draw they are today (attendance was only 22,340) was able to get a seat close to the field between home plate and the Red Sox dugout and so closely observe the batters.

Mike Torrez started for the Sox and Carew hit a two run line drive homer off him in the first inning.  In his next at bat he lined out to center, and then lined singles to left-center and center.  What I remember is how easy he made it look.  He didn't seem to swing hard, standing there almost casually, waiting for the pitch to reach him, smoothly swinging and hitting the ball hard in each at bat.

No comments:

Post a Comment