Baseball finger injuries aren’t very common, and missing games because of an injury is never fun. Having to tell your coach you can’t play because of an injury is even worse – especially if that injury happened doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing.
My junior year of high school, our team had a lot of talent; we had hitting, pitching, and defense. I wanted to be ready for the season of course, but the season was also about a month away when I decided to play in a flag football tournament with some of my baseball teammates. There were six of us on a team, and we were just trying to have some fun one weekend doing something other than baseball.
It was a cold weekend, typical for January, but it didn’t help our cause at all since none of us were really football players. Our first few games went pretty well as we beat two teams who weren’t as athletic as we were. Then the third game on our schedule rolled around. We were playing a team of actual football players from another high school in the area that was using the Let It Fly tournament as practice for themselves.
I don’t remember the exact point in the game when I got hurt, but I do remember exactly what happened. Playing defense, I went to dive to break up a pass and ended up having to brace my fall towards the ground. The problem was that my ring finger and middle finger on my left hand got jammed into the ground. That was the start of the finger injuries. At first I figured they were just a few jammed fingers that would feel better after a few plays off. Once our game was finished (which we lost), the pain was still there.
The gloves I was wearing were not coming off very easily, and I had to yank them off with a lot of force. Right then I knew something was wrong because I had never felt so much pain from not moving my fingers. They were already black and blue and swollen like hot dogs. Needless to say, this was not good news with the baseball season so far away, yet so close.
I finished playing the flag football tournament with much less intensity as I was playing to not get injured further. I should have probably sat out the rest of the games, but the team really needed me to at least sub in for our other guys when they needed a breather.
Once baseball practice got started up shortly after, I was hoping and praying that my finger injuries wouldn’t hurt anymore on the diamond. Of course that was not the case. I could barely fit my hand into my glove, and playing catch was painful with every throw I caught. Playing third base didn’t help either having to field hard ground balls and having little reaction time at the hot corner. Two fractured fingers make it extremely difficult to play baseball which I found out the hard way.
After a day or so I finally sucked it up and went to tell my coach about my hand. He was not at all pleased and inquired as to how it happened. I told him the truth about playing football; he almost had a coronary right there on the spot, which is what he also joked about us giving him watching us make careless mistakes on the field. I had to miss the first few weeks of our season, as I was wearing splints on my fingers and having to go to physical therapy to get the motion back as quickly as possible.
Once I was finally cleared to play again, it was a happy feeling that was short lived. By not playing early in the season, another player on our team had been playing for me and had been playing well. I wasn’t an all-state caliber player who would just come back and get inserted right back into the lineup. I ended up getting my share of games and at-bats, but the season was definitely less positive than it might have been had I not been injured.
It wasn’t so much the fact that I wasn’t playing as to why I was so upset. Our team really was poised for a great year and I couldn’t contribute the way I know could have. Letting my teammates down was even more upsetting knowing that I could have made an impact had I been playing.
The ironic part is that in the fall we would play football as part of our conditioning. We played touch football, but our games were still intense. That came to an end as well the next season once somebody actually got hut playing in our own pickup games. A lack of finger injuries was actually surprising since you can get jammed catching a football.
Finger injuries can sideline you for weeks
One of the hardest parts about the whole incident was that baseball was something I looked forward to every day in the spring time, and even in the fall for practice. School itself wasn’t the best part of my day – playing baseball was. To know that I wouldn’t be able to play for weeks because of finger injuries was a disaster. It was a reality check as to what I really cared about. I still did well enough in school, but knowing that there was nothing for me to do on the field at the end of each day was hard to swallow.
Another thing that came about from my injury was realizing just how vital something as insignificant as two fingers really matters. I was amazed at what I wasn’t able to do as well as I could before – turning a door knob, using a cup to drink out of, and holding a steering wheel to drive were all much more difficult than they used to be.
Although my finger injuries ended up healing eventually, I actually fractured my middle finger again my senior season. It was our next to last game and I got picked off at second base. As I dove back to the back, the tip of my finger got jammed into the base and I played my last high school game in extreme pain. My coach had told me that I could play despite being hurt if my parents said it was alright with them. I said it was alright even though I never really asked if I could play. I wasn’t going to sit on the bench of my potential last game because of a stiff finger.
I played Pop Warner football growing up and played my senior year of high school as well. I wrestled for a year and played basketball up through middle school. There was never a time when I was afraid of getting hurt or worried about an injury from another sport. I don’t have any regrets playing so many sports, but a part of me wishes I hadn’t played in that flag football tournament right before the season. I would probably do it again anyways not knowing what would happen, and it’s just one of those freak accidents that happens. The worst part might not have even been not playing – the smell of wearing a finger splint day after day for weeks at a time is awful and makes washing your hands a top priority.