Matt Imhof, the pitcher who had a freak accident with exercise bands that resulted in the loss of his right eye, has decided to retire from baseball.
Great opening to a post that has “awesomely” and “positive” in the title, right?
Matt wrote a piece for ESPN that talked about his decision to retire and everything that led up to that. The title is “I won’t be defined by my worst day.” It’s extraordinarily self-effacing and honest, no to mention brave, funny, and well written.
You should really read it yourself, but here are a few highlights.
Here’s what he says about the moment the tension broke in the exercise band he was using.
It's a surreal moment; the moment you realize you're screwed and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Matt was told by the doctors pretty quickly that he’d never see out of his right eye again, and he’d probably need to have it removed. He reacted exactly like you and I would.
I've never felt as alone as I did in that moment; my world had been completely shattered. Not only had I lost half my vision, but now I was going to look different too.
You tell yourself to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but when they told me that, the last little bit of hope I had was gone.
Yeah, I cried when I read this article, and I’m crying now writing this.
Matt battled with feelings of not really being himself anymore. The career he’d worked his entire life toward had been taken from him, and he was understandably depressed. But this is when the story starts to turn around. Matt had a doctor named Dr. Wendy W. Lee who helped Matt see how things could be for him.
She looked at me and smiled, "Matt, the worst part is over. You survived."
She continued, unaffected by my silence, "You have suffered a life-altering injury, not a life-ending one. It may be hard for you to see right now, but you can still do anything you want. You can play baseball again. You can drive a car. You can even be a brain surgeon. Anything that was possible for you before the accident is still possible for you now."
GUYS I’M CRYING AGAIN.
Dr. Lee kept repeating that message to Matt every time they saw each other, and eventually it sunk in. Matt got to work rebuilding his life. He had to relearn basic things like walking down stairs and driving, and before his prosthetic eye was ready, he had to handle people staring at him with a bandage over his eye all the time.
There’s so much more! But if I go on, I’ll just end up quoting the whole article, so just go read it.
Matt doesn’t really know what he’ll be doing with his future. He’s decided to retire not because of his injury, but because he needs a change. There’s no better reason to do something, really. He’s finishing his business finance degree, and helping out with the school’s baseball team. But I’m confident he’ll find his way to something that satisfies him.
At one point, Matt says this, and I think it’s incredibly eloquent.
Our field coordinator with the Phillies, Doug Mansolino, used to say the difference between baseball players and other people is that baseball players get up. We play a hard game. We get knocked down. But we always get back up.
Matt got back up.
We at The Good Phight wish you all the luck in the world, Matt. We hope you let us know how you’re doing every now and then.