Triple-A coach has plenty to be thankful for
Twins hitting instructor Ingram winning battle against brain tumor
Riccardo Ingram has always been a man of strong faith. He talks openly about the many blessings that have been bestowed upon him in his life -- including a long career in the sport that he loves and a supportive and wonderful family.But as Ingram's family planned to gather for Thanksgiving this year, they did so with a few more things to be thankful for than in years past. It's been a little more than 16 months since Ingram, a hitting instructor in the Twins' Minor League system, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. At the time, the prognosis was pretty dire. But at his latest checkup in October, the doctors told Ingram that they believe the majority of what's left of the tumor is just scar tissue. "It's been a blessing," Ingram said. "The little things and the small moments, they are something to be truly thankful for. We have a little different life this Thanksgiving. We are a little more thankful and a little more selfless. It gave everybody in my household a different perspective."
'Nothing to worry about,' Ingram thought initially of the headaches which persisted at times through the spring. Entering his second season as the hitting coach for Triple-A Rochester and his 12th as a coach in the Twins' Minor League organization, Ingram headed north with his team for the start of the season without much concern.But the headaches didn't go away. Twins Minor League director Jim Rantz remembers speaking with Red Wings manager Stan Cliburn in the early months of the season about his concern over Ingram's health. The hitting coach with the normally tireless work ethic was arriving late to the ballpark more frequently and he was sleeping often to try to get rid of the headaches. "Stan said, 'I haven't seen Ricco come in late as many times as he had,'" Rantz said. "A lot of times he would be late or miss things because he had horrific headaches at the time. I think he slept through reporting times. It was because of the fact that he was dealing with so much pain." By the early part of June, the headaches were becoming unbearably painful for Ingram and none of the medication they'd tried to treat them with was working. One morning, Ingram made a phone call to Rochester's athletic trainer, Tony Leo, before a day game and said he would be late to the ballpark. He felt a quick nap might help get rid of the piercing pain and he told Leo he'd be there by game time. Instead, Ingram was awakened hours later by the team's clubhouse manager who was checking to see if he was all right. "That was a game changer for me," Ingram said. "It had gone as far as it could go and we needed to find out what was wrong."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.