The Mets did nobody a service yesterday by not announcing what was the matter with their scheduled opening day starter, Matt Harvey. By not telling, they left the door open for all manner of speculation, including one TV report that turned out to be false which I believed, to my unhappineess. The actual trouble could have been potentially worse than the speculation. He had a blood clot in his bladder.
This is a subject I wish I wasn’t familiar with. Following a back operation in March of 2015, I suddenly began spitting up copious amounts of blood with no warning. No pain except the pain of the operation, just a couple of nose bleeds on the two nights before the disaster. The last thing I clearly remember is the hospital people giving me a suction thing to clear the blood out of my mouth. The next several days are very foggy. It turned out to be a blood clot in my lung and one in my leg. My family had me moved from my former home in South Carolina to New Jersey to receive ongoing medical care. The main result of the blood clot is I’ve been taking blood thinners since then. The doctor on the case says I could be on them for life owing to the nature of the problem.
The best known case I can remember of a baseball player coming back from a blood clot is David Cone in 1996. His settled in his pitching shoulder and required surgery to remove, while mine were dissolved by the blood thinners mentioned above. Shortly after this was originally published it was announced he had passed the blood clots. If_ blood thinners are enough, he should_ be OK to pitch, possibly even on Opening Day as originally scheduled.
The one thing you might not know if you don’t take blood thinners is, essentially your skin turns into tissue paper. One ding or dent that normally wouldn’t cause a problem can have you bruised or bleeding where you wouldn’t have been before. This is my experience, and my memory of my mother who took blood thinner the last 20-some years of her life.
The following is being written hours after the early edition became available. I wanted to take my earliest opportunity to print the truth, as opposed to the speculation that had run rampant the last 18 hours or so before the word came out this morning. Our first baseball birthday was the man Ernie Harwell delighted in calling “Dennis Dale McLain.” Denny McLain was born today in 1944 and is 72 today. In spite of two bad years at the end of his short career he finished with a 131-91 mark. At the peak of his powers he was an All-Star 3 times, the last in 1969. He took 2 Cy Young awards and is best known as the last 30-game winner, going 31-6 in 1968 under Mayo Smith in Detroit. He married Sharon Boudreau, the daughter of player, manager and broadcaster Lou Boudreau. McLain was a late call-up in 1963 and spent some time in the majors in 1964 before really hitting his stride in 1965. After 5 great years he was suspended for most of the 1970 season for consorting with gamblers. He was never the same. He was traded to the Senators in 1971, then to Oakland and Atlanta in 1972. He has been more troubled than most after the cheering stopped. He has repeatedly been imprisoned, the last time known being in 2011.
I usually stick to baseball player, manager or broadcaster birthdays. Today I need to break with that pattern because a very special song’s composer was born today. Albert Von Tilzer was born this day in 1878 and died in 1956. He was a composer until the end, although his most famous song was penned when he was 30. It was the now famous tale of Katie Casey, who was baseball mad. She had the fever and had it bad. We know it as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Jack Norworth wrote the words. The first known recording made of the song was sung by Edward Meeker for the Edison Phonograph company in 1908. The song can be heard on youtube as recorded from the cylinder. Billy Murray, a famous singer of the day was erroneously given credit for making this record, but his voice is far more nasal than that of singer Meeker. During the Ken Burns Baseball series in 1994, Harvey Hindermeyer’s rendition from 1910 was used.
Our last baseball birthday for today is that of Denton True Young. We know him as Cy Young, with Cy being short for Cyclone, the way his pitching motion was described early in his career. He won 511 games between 1890 and d1911 and the Cy Young award bears his name and is the standard for pitching excellence in each league.