Worst Injuries in the History of Baseball

Sports has had lasting moments of joy, triumph, and celebration for players and fans alike since the beginning. Yet, all diehards agree that injuries are the vicious and despairing times that take away the best players from the game they love. No matter what level of sport, team, or individual, injuries are the real deal. Despite constant advancements in technology and safety equipment, they truly never go away and are the source of so much pain and frustration. Treatments such as therapy, yoga, and stretching have provided some level of decrease in injuries, but they are still a factor. Whether it be a season-long ACL tear, Tommy John Surgery (Baseball fans know this one all too well), or a simple cramp, injuries are a bug that continues to bite. There's no doubt you've watched a baseball game in awe, whether on television or at a professional ballpark, disgusted by a gruesome injury that just unfolded. Let's take a look at some of the most eye-opening and jaw-dropping injuries in the history of Baseball. Prepare yourself. 

 Ray Chapman's fatal fastball

The only deadly in-game injury in the history of Baseball took place back in 1920. A hall of fame shortstop, Ray Chapman, played for the Cleveland Indians. New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays threw a fastball that struck the head of the 29-year-old. He would go on to suffer a three-inch depressed fracture in his head and a lacerated brain from a broken skull. The unfolded injury led to a long list of rule changes and player protection, many rules that still stand today. Baseballs were required to be cleaned before the first pitch. Somebody described the ball thrown by Mays as dirty, and it was also extremely dark outside. The "spitball" was also renounced, a pitch that used to be common. 

 Bobby Valentine's spike scare

The year was 1973. An outfielder for the California Angels was looking to make an over-the-wall grab against the Oakland Athletics. He had a .400 batting average in April and was in full pursuit of a promising season. Valentine didn't catch the ball as he climbed the wall instead of catching the spike of his cleat in the chain-link fence near the end of the wall. He suffered a compound fracture in his leg and was out for the remainder of the year. At just 23 years old, he lost his power and grit. The rest of his career was spent as a utility player for three teams, a sad reminder that Baseball's worst injuries can put a dent in an otherwise promising player. After years of managing the New York Mets, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox, Bobby V now serves as the athletic director for Sacred Heart University. As a result of his gruesome injury, the MLB decided to eliminate chain link home run fences and metal cleats (for the most part). 

Mickey Mantle's knee injury

Mantle was perceived as one of the best athletes in all sports, and undoubtedly one of the top ballplayers on the diamond suffered a career-changing catastrophic injury. As just a 19-year-old rookie, Mantle tore the cartilage on his knee. He was tracking a ball hit by Willie Mays in the World Series (game two). Surprisingly, however, his knee was neither reconstructed nor repaired. The New York Yankees outfielder continued to play and would play for 17 more years, despite the injury. He went on to win the 1956 Triple Crown, two gold glove awards, hit the longest home run in MLB history (565 feet), and became a Hall of Famer. 

Tony Saunders Pitching Arm

This Tampa Bay Rays flamethrower had his career taken away due to his pitching mechanics. Up against the Texas Rangers, the first pick in the 1997 MLB expansion draft threw a pitch that led to him falling to the ground in pain. He snapped a bone in his pitching arm and was sidelined for the year. The very next season, he broke his pitching arm, once again. At only 26 years of age, Saunders was forced into retirement. This was a reminder to pitchers worldwide: the importance of having the ideal form and mechanics. 

Atrocious All-Star Injury

One of the most competitive athletes to tie his cleats, Pete Rose, did significant damage at the 1970 MLB All-Star Game. Literally. These games are meant for the best and brightest to come together and compete under little to no pressure. Stakes are low at the fanfest event, but for Rose, they must have seemed high. In the final inning, he raced towards home plate in pursuit of the winning run. The only one in the way was Oakland Athletics catcher Ray Fosse. Fosse was run over in a collision that separated his shoulder and cut his career almost exponentially. This was proof that injuries can combat an event even as harmless as the all-star game. 

Brian Roberts Disgusting Elbow

Watching a gruesome injury leads to many "Oh My" moments if you're anything like me. This one was a prime example. Back in 2005, the Baltimore Orioles' second baseman suffered a season-ending injury. His arm bent entirely behind his back, following a collision with the New York Yankees Bubba Crosby. In comeback fashion (literally, how did this guy not get a comeback award named after him), Roberts played in 138 games the following season and posted a batting average of .286. Should he be the next avenger? We sure think so. 

Doc Powers Catastrophic Case

In Baseball and throughout sports, the "hustle plays" often go unnoticed. Unfortunately, many of these plays can result in genuinely damaging injuries, though the effort put in is worthy of applause. For Oakland Athletics Catcher Doc Powers, this was spot-on. The Pittsfield, MA native and Notre Dame graduate chased down a ball when he crashed into the wall behind home plate. The injury he sustained would later require multiple surgeries when internal bleeding was found. Powers passed away a month later. 

The Curse of Dave Dravecky

Like Tony Saunders, Dravecky was a victim of an unfortunate arm injury. This time, though, it had a happy ending. 

The San Francisco Giants pitcher, in 1988, found out he had a malignant tumor in his throwing arm. Following successful surgery, he headed down to the minors. There, he suffered another arm injury, breaking his arm against the Montreal Expos. Dravecky broke his arm a second time in a celebration following the Giants NLCS victory in a whirlwind of events. Going through surgery for his arm, doctors found that his cancer had returned. Like the many arm injuries, the inspirational pitcher fought through the scare and overcame cancer. He became a motivational speaker and shared his story with the world. 

Chris Snyder fractures his stones

We went nuts when we saw this one. No pun intended, sorry, everyone. This Arizona Diamondbacks catcher was in for a rude awakening. Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers fouled off a ball to the balls of Snyder. The team announced that he would head to the 15-day disabled list for a broken left testicle. Yikes. 

Tony Conigliaro’s Cheek

We end with a feel-good story, one that started with a gruesome injury.

Former Boston Red Sox and California Angels outfielder Tony Conigliaro was an all-star and home run leader making a name for himself. In 1967, during his tenure with the Red Sox, he was hit by a pitch from Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton. The pitch landed on his left cheek, ultimately cracking his cheekbone. He also dislocated his jaw and damaged the retina in his eye. He missed the entire 1968 season, and his vision was beginning to fade. 

However, he returned and received comeback player of the year honors as he hit 36 home runs and had 116 runs batted in. 

The Road to Recovery

The road to recovery following a brutal injury often is shown to spark hope within individuals, proving there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For many of these players, that light was eventually found, though some, in this case, were faced with life-threatening or career-ending blows. Sports is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous professions globally (see No.20), and they only appear to be getting more difficult. So, what has been done to prevent even more long-lasting damages amongst athletes? 

New methods of participating and watching sports have come about, such as Esports. The gaming platform is changing pace from the more traditional, hard-hitting sporting venues while still drawing in plenty of eager fans. No longer is the world at a place as back in the Roman days with gladiators and 'fight till the death' mantras. Besides, sporting equipment has evolved to provide a safer and more comfortable fit (along with more rules and regulations). Still, that same durability has led to stronger and more evolved athletes. Think D.K Metcalf and Connor McGregor. 

Nonetheless, sports will always have some inherent danger. It is what makes for an exhilarating performance. It's what makes every snap, pitch, dribble, and jump worth watching. 


Be sure to check out Ryan Weiss's coaching program and his other training programs to elevate your game.