The 2009 baseball season has officially closed. After a season filled with late-inning comebacks and walk-off home runs, a World Series champion has been crowned.
Two stories of baseball comebacks deserve some extra attention while we await the spring arrival of pitchers and catchers:
• In August, Jerry Remy returned to the Red Sox broadcast booth after an extended illness. He was diagnosed with lung cancer the previous fall and underwent surgery. An infection followed but after going through appropriate treatment, it was depression that crippled him. Remy then stepped forward to make people aware of the scope of the problem. He now openly encourages those suffering from depression to get help in the form of medication and psychotherapy. His bold admission helps remove any stigma associated with psychiatric diseases.
• Aaron Boone underwent open heart surgery in March at the age of 36. The surgery repaired a chronic problem with his aorta that included replacement of the aortic valve. He impressively returned to major league play in September with the Houston Astros. His recovery included standard cardiac rehabilitation in addition to extensive work aimed at regaining his baseball skills.
Both stories highlight some essential personality traits necessary for success in athletics. Athletes do not fear challenges, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Successful athletes have a dedication to training that distinguishes them from others. The burden of not trying to return far outweighs any embarrassment associated with being unsuccessful in that effort.
Aaron Boone may never play another major league game and Jerry Remy may still have to deal with depression, but both know that their stories have helped many others face physical and mental challenges.