By: Daniel Wilkins
Head of The Dugout: Historical
I’ve been longing to write this article for a long time, especially during the surge of All-Star caliber pitchers receiving hand, foot, and mouth disease (which will be mentioned later), but I didn’t have a job in journalism like I do now at The Dugout. At the same time, I didn’t feel like waiting for Mike Trout to tear his rotator cuff while getting a haircut, or otherwise waiting for a “weird injury” opportunity to write this. Without further ado, here are some examples of the most obscure, unlikely, and downright confusing injuries in baseball’s long history.
Toe Trouble (1983)
Starting with some Hall of Fame talent, George Brett, requiring little introduction, is one of the greatest third basemen of all time. However, these people who seem immortal on the diamond are human after all- and that was greatly demonstrated during an off day in 1983. Brett was at home, doing laundry, and he was watching the Cubs game on WGN. Just like you and I- Brett had friends, including Bill Buckner (yes, that guy). When Harry Caray mentioned Buckner’s name, Brett sprinted into the room to see his friend bat and “kicked the side of the door jam”, as he stated in an interview.
He would end up breaking his pinky toe, and would miss 19 games.
It’s honestly shocking at the number of times that players have gotten hurt carrying luggage and suitcases. I’ve been on flights a number of times, and I’ve never sprained a back muscle from carrying my suitcase around. Considering that these players are on flights 60+ times every year, I guess that the likelihood of suitcase-related injuries rise a bit.
Dennis Martinez was hurt in 1992, along with Rick Aguilera in ‘96, Jonathan Lucroy in 2012, and Salvador Peréz in 2018.
While information is scarce on Dennis and Aguilera, we do know that it involved back and shoulder injuries. However, the injuries of Lucroy and Peréz are unique for a whole different reason.
In 2012, then-Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy was at home, and was reportedly reaching for a sock laying under the bed. Lucroy did not see his wife, who was messing around with the suitcases, and one fell right onto Lucroy’s hand. Lucroy’s diagnosis of a broken hand was not good news, and his follow-up attempt to hide his injury was foiled when he couldn’t grip a bat. He missed about a month of playing time.
More recently, in 2018, Gold Glove-winning catcher Salvador Peréz was sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a Grade 2 tear of his MCL in his left knee. Just like Lucroy, Salvy was at his home, and suffered the MCL injury while carrying luggage up stairs.
Jeremy Affeldt’s Bad Luck (2011-12, 2015)
I never would’ve thought that it was possible to have one player sustain three injuries so wonky that even Dr. Seuss couldn’t best him.
However, such a scenario is possible, when your name is Jeremy Affeldt. In September of 2011, just as the barbecue season winds down and everyone prepares for Autumn, there is Affeldt, recovering from a cut he received on his hand. This is a cut orchestrated in no ordinary fashion, though- it comes from trying to separate frozen hamburgers.
Affeldt has a great family, but sometimes, if you’re a father, your kids can be quite dangerous. This is proven when Affeldt sprained his right knee because of his 4-year-old leaping into his arm (2012), and partially dislocating the other knee while playing with his kids (2015).
Bad luck, man, that’s all I can say.
Technology Attacks Trevor (2016)
Everyone knew that this was coming.
In Game 3 of the ALCS in 2016, every baseball fan that tuned in to watch the Indians battle the Jays was surprised (and a bit grossed out) when TV cameras showed close-up clips of pitcher Trevor Bauer’s hand dripping with dark red blood. No, this was not a scene from The Shining, but instead an oddball injury that Bauer obtained after his drone decided to cut his finger severely. Bauer was attempting to repair his beloved drone, and the propellers did not give Bauer that same love back.
Even more proof that technology is out for blood (literally) against humans, and we all need to hide in our bunkers NOW.
Guitar Villain (2006)
Heroes are good, villains are bad. Guitar Hero is good, but when you play it so much that you strain your wrist, that’s not so good.
Former Tigers relief pitcher Joel Zumaya was playing so much Guitar Hero that he strained his wrist, and was sidelined for most of the 2006 playoffs. The Tigers rookie was able to return for the World Series against the Cardinals, but the Cardinals won the series anyway in 5 games.
Hand, Foot, and WHAT? (2018)
If this isn’t the weirdest one, I don’t know what is.
You may recall that during the summer in 2018, three All-Star caliber arms- Noah Syndergaard, J.A. Happ, and Brad Peacock, all went home sick when they contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease. Of course, all three pitchers received the disease at different times, but it’s just plain odd when it comes to the circumstances.
Syndergaard was rather public when it came to his treatment; he said on multiple occasions that he must’ve gotten it at a Boys & Girls Club visit. However, Happ and Peacock spoke little to no words regarding the matter.
While hand, foot and mouth disease is mild, and also mildly rare (less than 200,000 cases each year), the symptoms are quite odd indeed. It is a viral infection that can be transmitted through saliva, feces, fluid from blisters, or from direct contact with unwashed hands.
Daniel Wilkins is the head writer for The Dugout: Historical, and has been writing for The Dugout since 2018. Although his coverage is mostly historical, Daniel also covers modern-day MLB for The Dugout as well.