Too often in sports, we get caught up in wins and losses, the ups and downs of games and seasons.
We sometimes lose sight of the fact that athletes are people, talented, yes, but also subject to the same roller coaster of life as the rest of us.
With that in mind, meet Danny Farquhar.
Farquhar is a journeyman relief pitcher, married with two children, who has logged time with Toronto, Seattle, Tampa and the Chicago White Sox. In seven Major League seasons, he’s gone 10-15 with 18 saves, 16 of them with the Mariners in 2013. Nothing special.
But Danny Farquhar is very special because the other night, he threw out the first pitch before a White Sox game against Milwaukee. That happened six weeks after Farquhar nearly died in the White Sox dugout from a brain aneurysm.
Farquhar had thrown 15 pitches that April night in what would become a blowout loss to Houston. He came into the dugout and collapsed. Unconscious, he was rushed to Rush University Medical Center where he hovered for the next several days between life and death.
He had suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm. That is no small matter. It can be a killer. In an instant, Danny Farquhar had gone from a Major League pitcher to a patient in the intensive care unit of the hospital, fighting for his life after a long and difficult surgery.
Farquhar remembers very little of the episode, and that’s probably a good thing. He recalls warming up in the bullpen and then nothing until four or five days later when he awoke with over 20 staples on one side of his head and a drain coming out the other side.
The aneurysm occurred on April 20, Farquhar remained in neurological intensive care until May 7. He spent 18 days in the hospital before returning home to begin a difficult rehabilitation.
Three weeks later, on June 1, he was ready to return to the ballpark and throw out the first pitch before a game against the Brewers. First pitch ceremonies are no big deal. They happen frequently. This one, though, was a very big deal.
Surrounded by family, medical staff from Rush Hospital and teammates, Danny Farquhar marched to the mound, wound up and threw a strike. He suffers from some memory problems, but you can bet that first pitch ceremony was a moment he will never forget.
Farquhar will soon start a throwing program designed to restore his arm strength and ability to pitch. He won’t pitch this season but the doctors believe he will be able to return to his job next year. Let other pitchers worry about a sore arm or an aching elbow. Farquhar will never let that stuff bother him very much.
You think you have problems? The next time you’re in a traffic jam or get hassled by your boss, step back for a moment and think about Danny Farquhar and what he’s been through. And that will get you through.