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Kevin Hieronymus

Happ: ‘I’m gonna be alright’

I’ve seen countless injuries and scary moments as a sports fan over the years.

Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman in 1985, A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy in 2013 and of course Kevin Ware in this year’s NCAA tournament. They were all heart-breaking and ones you’d never want to see to happen to anyone.

But I’ve never felt one so personal or hit so close to home as when I watched St. Bede’s own J.A. Happ go down Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Rays’ Desmond Jennings hit a rocket right back at Happ and caught him flush on the left side of his head. He had no chance to escape. It was replayed on ESPN throughout the night and CBS news included it on their morning newscast.

It’s different when you know that athlete who has been hurt.

I quickly thought of his parents, Jim and Sue Happ of Peru and how they must be feeling, and their sense of helplessness.

I’m glad to report that J.A. is doing OK.

I sent a text to J.A. Wednesday morning to let him know I was praying for his recovery, not anticipating him being able to respond. He surprised me when he replied, simply saying, “I’m gonna be alright.”

That was great, great news. ESPN reported he was in stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with a head contusion and a laceration to his left ear. The Blue Jays said he was released from the hospital after clearing tests Wednesday.

“I’m in good spirits,” Happ told the Sports Exchange. “I definitely appreciate the support of the baseball community. It’s been overwhelming, the messages and kind words I’ve been getting. I just want to thank everyone for that. And I look forward to getting back out there soon.”

Keep him in your prayers.

PC baseball coach Dave Garcia said those injuries are scary and “there’s nothing they can really do about it” unless they make the pitchers wear helmets.

I think it is time they take a step in that direction. I’m afraid one of these times, baseball’s going to have a tragedy on its hands.

I know the A’s McCarthy was touch and go after being hit last year, sustaining swelling of the brain. He is back to pitching this year.

I pray that J.A., who was the BCR Athlete of the Year in 2001, is able to make a full recovery and get back to the mound soon, too.

MLB requires the base coaches to wear a protective helmet at all times following the tragic death of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh in July of 2007. I won’t allow my daughters to pitch without a mask.

I’m not sure what the right answer is, but it’s time to do something before it’s too late.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com

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