My Top Baseball Story of 2009 – Aaron Boone

I can remember it like it was yesterday. October 17, 2003, I was at the old Yankee Stadium in my seats in the mezzanine along the third base line. It was Game 7 of the 2003 American league Championship Series. You all know the story. Pedro started for the Red Sox, stayed in the game too long as we all chanted “Who’s Your Daddy?” at him for over two hours. That night, even if for a little while, I had a new hero. His name was Aaron Boone. Aaron Boone became a hero to all Yankee fans that night as he hit a home run in the 11th inning of Game 7, sending the Yankees to the World Series. Aaron Boone, for one trip around the bases was walking on air. For all of us who were there in the stadium, it was pure bedlam. For Aaron Boone, it was a dream. To this day, that dream and that highlight still brings cheers from Yankee fans and I am sure, to Aaron boone.

On March 17 of this year, Aaron Boone was preparing to start the 2009 baseball season. He was going to platoon at third base for the Houston Astros. However, during a press conference during the next day, Boone announced he was heading to the operating table, for open-heart surgery. Boone was living with a heart condition that involved his aorta and aortic valve. The surgery could not wait. His condition was not life threatening, but it needed to be addressed. On March 25, it was. His father, former major leaguer Bob Boone, reported the surgery was a success.

On September 1, Boone played in a major league baseball game, at first base for the Houston Astros. Boone admitted he was nervous, and when he came to bat for the first time, he received a standing ovation from his teammates and coaches. Aaron Boone returned to major league baseball only six months after open heart surgery. That night Aaron Boone once again became a hero of mine. He was a hero because I knew exactly what he went through and during his recovery and although I have no idea how much work he went through to return to baseball, I know how hard it was for him to return to normal life.

On February 8, 1995 I went through what Boone did 11 years later. As spring training opened during Boone’s rookie season, I was on the operating table having the same open-heart surgery that Boone faced later on. I was 24 and facing the fight of my life. Just to get back to where I was before the surgery, I had to spend three months of life like none other. I had to re-teach myself how to breathe. I had to spend weeks not able to walk up and down stairs, not being able to lift anything over ten pounds, not being able to be physically active, work out or just have a normal life. I spent three months of my life facing struggle like no other. The first thing I did was play softball when I was allowed to. Recovering from open-heart surgery is a unique experience. There is no manual or “Dummies” book on recovering. There are very few younger people out there who can sit with you and tell you what to expect. Believe me, it is living hell until you can one day feel yourself in control once again.

People told me I was the bravest person they knew. People told me I was their hero for going through what I did. All I did was I recover from surgery. Boone made it all the way to major league baseball. Boone, a professional athlete, had to face life without playing a game that he had played since he was a young kid. Boone had to face recovery. He had to learn to do things that all of us take for granted. He had to hope he did not sneeze, because that is horrendously painful. He had to hope he did not cough or have the hiccups for weeks, as that pain is intense. But, Boone also hoped from day one that he would once again wear the uniform of a major league baseball team. He did that.

Wow.

Hero.

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