15 Bizarre Off-Field Baseball Injuries
Over the course of a 162-game MLB season, the daily grind—playing 6 days a week, summer heat, red-eye flights—is going to take its toll on every player. Injuries are going to mount as guys strain obliques, tweak hamstrings, dislocate shoulders, and pull groins. There’s just no way around it.
Then again, it’s not always day-to-day baseball activities that put players on the disabled list. You might recall that, last season, former AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke missed the first month of the season after he broke a rib…playing pick-up basketball.
Still as far as non-baseball related injuries go, that’s nothing. Over the year, there have been a lot of freak injuries that have landed guys in the DL. And I’m talking real embarrassing stuff, here—stuff they either shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, or stuff that you would never think could injure a grown man.
So today let’s take a look at 15 of the most bizarre off-the-field injuries in the history of Major League Baseball. But rather that list the player injured, we going to list the cause of the injury—because it’s funnier that way.
Current Phillie and former Astro Hunter Pence sliced up his knee and one of his fingers when he walked through a sliding glass door at his apartment in Florida during spring training. Apparently he was using the hot tub with a special lady friend at the time. I'm guessing the injury pretty much ended that romantic evening.
15. Sliding Glass Door
Right before the playoffs in 2000, when Mike Matheny was just a Gold Glove catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and not their new manager, his season came to an abrupt end when he severed two tendons and a nerve in his right index finger. How? With a hunting knife his wife just gave him for his birthday.
The funny thing is, Matheny's career was just fine. It was Rick Ankiel's career that may have been messed up because of this. Without the calm and reassuring presence of Matheny behind the plate in the postseason, the pressure got to the 22-year-old rookie pitcher. In game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves, the kid threw 5 wild pitches in one inning, walking 4 batters. And yes, that is a record. Ankiel was never able to regain his confidence as a pitcher, and he subsequently gave up and moved to the outfield.
14. Hunting Knife
Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlin tore the meniscus in his left knee while taking part in a time-honoured baseball tradition: smacking teammate Wes Helms in the face with a shaving cream pie while he was being interviewed after the game. I guess he didn't use the proper pie-throwing technique.
13. Shaving Cream Pie
Former Mets and Yankees pitcher David Cone missed a few starts after getting bit by a dog. No, it wasn’t a vicious attack from a Rottweiler or anything. Just a little nip from his mother-in-law’s Jack Russell. But it was on the ring finger of his pitching hand, so it caused Cone to miss a few starts.
12. Dog Bite
Sneezing, believe it or not, is one of the most common (though extremely embarrassing) causes or off-field injuries in Major League Baseball. Sammy Sosa, Goose Gossage, Russ Springer, Juan Gonzalez, and Marc Valdez (among others) have all missed time thanks to sneezing injuries.
Most of the time, the sneeze causes back problems. However, in the case of stud pitcher Mat Latos, his attempt to suppress a sneeze in 2010 ended up giving him a sore oblique, which put in on the 15 day DL.
Former Rockie Clint Barmes was a leading rookie of the year candidate in 2005 until he broke his collarbone in July. He initially told the team that he fell down the stairs carrying groceries, but would later admit that he was actually carrying a giant slab of deer meat that teammate Todd Helton had given him as a gift. (Thoughtful, I guess, but also pretty weird.)
10. Deer Carcass Transportation
At the Texas Rangers' annual "welcome home" luncheon, outfielder Oddibe McDowell (great name, right?) sliced his hand open while buttering a dinner roll.
What the hell kind of butter knifes are they using in Texas?
9. Dinner Roll
How in the hell do you injure your elbow just by putting on your shirt? Ask former Astro (and current Diamondback) Geoff Blum. His shirt-putting-on injury cost him a 15-day spell on the pine.
8. Getting Dressed
Retired pitcher Greg Minton showed up to the Giants' spring training camp in 1985 with a nasty horseshoeing injury. No, Greg didn’t injure himself playing horseshoes. He injured himself shoeing a horse. The genius drove a nail right through his pitching hand. I guess he was trying to make a few extra bucks by working as a ranch hand in the offseason.
(On an unrelated note, is this one awesome-looking dude or what?)
Maybe you heard about this one, the most recent entry on our list. A few weeks ago, Rays ace David Price had to leave a spring game against Detroit after suffering neck spasms brought on by drying his head and neck off with a towel between innings.
That's right. Neck spasms, brought on by a towel. But wait—it gets better.
"It's happened to me two times before," Price said after the game. "The towel just catches the back of my head and it pulls my neck forward. I just felt it a little bit in back of my neck and just wanted to be cautious with it."
It's happened before? Dude, if you injure your neck more than once while drying it off with a towel, you're doing it wrong.
While already out with a shoulder injury, former Yankee pitcher Randy Keisler was bitten by a pygmy rattlesnake while gardening in his backyard. Obviously, he wasn't living in one of the Five Boroughs; pygmy rattlesnakes aren't indigenous to the state of New York.
(How much better would this one be if Keisler played for the Diamondbacks at the time?)
In 1990, Blue Jays rookie Glenallen Hill hit the DL after he sustained injuries while sleepwalking. Apparently the guy is deathly afraid of spiders, so when he had a terrifying dream involving malicious eight-legged creatures, he tried to run away...while still sleeping. His sleepy escape entailed crawling up the carpeted stairs in his apartment, scraping the skin off his knees and elbows. The next day, Hill—on crutches, no less—told reporters that if they didn't believe him, they could go look at the blood stains.
I think I would have just lied and said the wife and I got a little too kinky in the sack. It would have been better than giving people an image of a grown man scrambling up the stairs on his hands and knees crying like a little kid.
Former Minnesota Twins left fielder (and honorary New Jerseyan) Marty Cordova had to miss a game after he fell asleep in a tanning bed and burnt himself to a crisp. No word on whether he also went to the gym and dropped off his laundry that day.
3. Sun Burn
Back when the flame-throwing Joel Zumaya was a rookie with the Detroit Tigers, he had to miss three games of the ALCS with inflammation in his throwing wrist. The culprit? Too much Guitar Hero. No joke. In fact, on the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, the following disclaimer appears in the credits: "No pitchers were harmed in the making of this game. Except for one. Joel Zumaya. He had it coming."
2. Guitar Hero
In 1995, former Marlins second baseman Bret Barbarie was making nachos in the clubhouse before a game with teammate Rich Renteria. Barbarie's job was to slice up the jalapeños. Barbarie also wears contact lenses.
You see where this is going? Yeah. Barbarie says he washed his hands after making the nachos, but if you've ever handled hot peppers you know that the oils don't always wash off on the first go. So when Barbarie put his contacts in before the game? Serious burning of the eye balls.
Needless to say, Barbarie didn't pitch that day. Because of nachos.