Thursday, August 5, 2010

God Loves Baseball

My son came into the world on a rainy day in June 1997 at 3:15pm. My wife and I enjoyed our son's first couple of hours with him until a nurse came into the room to take our son for a quick routine check up before bedtime.  She did not return quickly.

Eventually, a big doctor with a German accent came into our room and said that our son had a serious heart defect. He then told us that he was sorry. The kind of sorry that lacked any glimmer of hope at all. He then informed us that our son needed to be rushed to the Children's Hospital.

The transport staff wheeled my son's incubator into our room so my wife could say goodbye. It seemed like a final goodbye. After a tough labor, my wife was in no condition to follow her new son, so I followed my new born son alone. It was tough to leave my wife when she needed me most, but I needed to go.  As I was walking out the door, my wife struggled to say words I will never forget. She said, "He will never get to play baseball." Tears filled my eyes as those words echoed in my head.

Twenty weeks into the pregnancy, we found out that we are having a boy. From that moment on, I could not wait to teach my son how to play baseball, my favorite sport. I repeatedly told my wife that I planned to make our new son a lefty hitter even if he was right handed. That dream seemed to be shattered.

I left my wife's side and walked in silence down empty hospital hallways toward the exit. I found my car and fumbled to put the keys in the ignition. Through teary eyes, I struggled to see the directional signs that would lead me out of the parking labyrinth.  I found the ambulance that was ready to take my son away. I sat there in silence waiting for the journey to Children's Hospital to start. At 2 a.m., it was eerily dark and quiet. The ambulance started to roll. The red lights flashed but there were no sirens. I could hear my heart beating. I reached for the radio knob and turned on the classic rock station, to kill the depressing silence.

And then it happened. God talked to me through the radio and He told me everything was going to be all right. Yep, believe it or not, the song on the radio was John Fogerty's baseball song titled “Centerfield”...  (Link to the song below)

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!  
We're born again, there's new grass on the field.  
A-roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
Oh, put me in, Coach - I'm ready to play today;  
Put me in, Coach - I'm ready to play today;  
Look at me, I can be Centerfield...

How many songs are on a classic rock's play list? What are the odds of hearing that song at that moment in time? I think that the odds are low, unless, of course, God is the disc jockey. I got to the hospital in a great mood. God convinced me that everything was ok. I filled out the paperwork and followed my son to the ICU. I waited for about an hour for the official diagnosis. My son had Transposition of the Great Arteries. Basically, my son's aorta was connected to the place were the pulmonary artery was suppose to be connected and vice versa. His heart was pumping great, but he had blood going from his heart to his lungs to get oxygen - and back to his heart. On the other side of his heart he was pumping blood to his body and brain and then back to his heart. This loop never went through his lungs to get much needed oxygen. He was suffocating.

Despite the bad diagnosis, I was somewhat upbeat. I called my wife and told her with absolute confidence that our son was going to be OK. My wife said me, "That's great. Did our doctor read the situation wrong?" "No," I said, "But God talked to me and told me everything was going to be OK. In fact, our son is going to play baseball." A sense of calm came over my wife, too, as I recounted the story about the song.

My son had a major open heart surgery four days later. The surgery was performed by the skilled Dr. Peter Manning of Cincinnanti Children's Hospital. Four weeks after that, my brown eyed boy rounded third and headed for home. I did make him a lefty as planned. And baseball happens to be his favorite sport. He currently plays on an elite baseball team, a team that beat the Panama and Puerto Rican national teams en route to a second place finish in the CABA World Series. He was named to the All Tournament Team.  Here is a picture when he was eight. He hit this ball off the fence about 190 feet, and the reactions of the dads in the background tell the story. If they only knew he has a heart condition, they would really be amazed.

The Main Point

God spoke directly to me. God loves baseball. I would be willing to bet that God loves apple pie and America, too.


  1. This is a very inspiring story and few people can truely understand your family's emotions like my wife & I can. We are married with 5 children (3 girls & 2 boys). The two boys (ages 15 & 11) are very active in multiple sports (football, baseball & wrestling).

    My wife & I are former competitive athletes (I wrestled in college & my wife was a gymnast in HS). I have remained very active in coaching youth sports for many years.

    Our 11 year old (Andrew) was born with a congenital heart defect also. He had an emergency surgery shortly after he was born to keep him alive. He then had a valve replacement surgery when he was 6 months old. Fortunately, Andrew has been able to enjoy a very normal and active childhood and has matured into a good little athlete in each of the 3 sports he has participated in. He is also a wonderful student as well.

    Last Fall while playing football, we noticed that Andrew was becoming tired more frequently than usual and we took him to see the doctor. After a very extensive MRI of his heart function, it was discovered that Andrew's heart was beginning to enlarge and that he needed to have his heart valve replaced again. Needless to say, the next few months were stressful on my wife and I, but his surgery went smoother than we could have ever imagined (the surgery was last December). In the Spring, he was cleared for normal activity and returned to playing baseball. He is now playing football and playes fullback & outside linebacker for his 5th-6th grade football team. The surgeon advised us not to allow Andrew to return to the sport of wrestling because of the demands on the cardiovascular system.

    When I came across your story, many memories of the anxieties leading up to and during Andrew's surgery, and great relief and joy after, came rushing back.

    I wish you and your son the very best success.

    Best Regards,

    Mark Mammen
    Urbana, Illinois

  2. My son goes to a cardiologist every year. Every year we worry about new issues as my son grows. We worry about his valves which have always had some minor leakage. We worry about the heart enlarging.

    We are hopeful that we will not have to endure the pain and fear associated with another surgery but knowing that your son was able to get back to normal activities after a surgery in his teens is comforting.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Wow, what a story, and I sure can relate. My daughter had CHD surgery when she was three days old. She was transferred from where she was born to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. We just celebrated her second birthday nad she is doing great. I love your blog, and now I love it even more having read this. God bless.

    1. Tommy - I read your first blog post about your baby girl's first day.( It took me back. Children's hospitals and doctors and surgeons are sent by God. I will be following your blog now. Thanks for reaching out.

  4. Totally love it how you add meaning to the content and writing in the most easy way to everyone can understand. Great.Independence Day in Tamil

  5. My friend had a similar story. When he was born doctors said that he wouldn't be able to walk. But his mother didn't give up and now he is a participant of swimming competitions.

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