04/22/2008 12:30 PM ET
The Bigs List: Weird injuries
From deer meat to spiders and everything in between
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
The colorful history of baseball is rife with oddity, and the long list of baseball injuries is no exception. For every strained intercostal, bum hammy, Tommy John surgery and broken hamate bone, there's something positively wacky.
Naturally, that's where MLB.com/Entertainment's The Bigs List comes in. Here are our nine favorite weirdest baseball injuries -- a tough, tough call with so many to choose from over the years:
1. "Venison, Vidi, Vici," by Clint Barmes, Colorado Rockies, 2005
Barmes was one of the leading contenders for National League Rookie of the Year when he broke his collarbone and then made the rookie mistake of not being so truthful about how it happened. First, he said he slipped and fell on stairs while carrying groceries to his fourth-floor apartment because he didn't want to wait for a slow elevator. Then, he admitted that it wasn't groceries, but a bag of deer meat given to him by teammate Todd Helton. Three years later, it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense, particularly the part about a guy making over $300,000 a year living in a fourth-floor apartment.
2. "Yellow (Pages) Fever," by Steve Sparks, Milwaukee Brewers organization, 1994
This knuckleballer's career took a sad, yet historically humorous, turn in Spring Training when the Brewers met some motivational speakers whose bag of tricks included Herculean feats such as iron-bending and tearing phone books in half. Naturally, Sparks tried the latter trick the next day with the Yellow Pages. The phone book won, Sparks' dislocated shoulder lost, and he spent the year in the Minors. But hey ... he almost tore the thing in half. Almost.
3. "Reality Bites," by Rickey Henderson, Unknown team and year
There are plenty of grand tales of "Rickey being Rickey" -- the original "Manny Being Manny," by the way -- and this ranks up at the top of the list, along with the false John Olerud story, which is an entirely different column in itself. But we digress. As this legend goes, Rickey fell asleep while icing his foot and caught a mid-summer case of frostbite, making him miss several games. Multiple Internet searches couldn't confirm the truth of this story, but it doesn't matter. It's Rickey, and Rickey wasn't going to miss The List.
4. "Das Boots," by Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox, mid-1980s
Boggs, the Hall of Famer who batted .328 and stroked 3,010 hits over the course of 18 big-league seasons, reached the nadir of his athletic career when he slipped while putting on cowboy boots, falling on a couch and wrenching his back. Boggs would later make up for this colossal country-western faux pas by riding a horse around Yankee Stadium after winning the 1996 World Series.
5. "Press Your Luck," by John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves, Year unknown
In 1996, John Smoltz was quoted as saying that he never, and we repeat never, missed any playing time when he had burned himself ironing a shirt. We're inclined to believe one of the true class acts in the game -- and a heck of a golfer to boot -- but sorry, Smoltzie. Even if it isn't true, it's too good of a story to ignore, and it's unfortunately been, well, seared into the American baseball conscience.
6. "Workin' At The Truck Wash Blues," by Jeff Kent, San Francisco Giants, 2002
Kent is a probable Hall of Famer and his dedication and toughness are as much a reason for future enshrinement as his talent. His creativity, however, has been underappreciated. For example, during Spring Training in 2002 Kent fell off his pickup truck while washing it -- himself -- and broke a bone in his hand. But only a gamer would describe an injury that cost him a month this way: "I didn't think much of it at the time and finished washing my truck. It started swelling up during the night and got really sore." We applaud Kent's grit, but later reports said the injury happened while he was doing motorcycle tricks. Kent denied these reports, so we'll never know the real truth, but either way, it's creative and it's a no-doubt List-maker.
7. "Play With Fire," by Marty Cordova, Baltimore Orioles, 2002
While fake-baking at a tanning salon, Cordova fell asleep and paid a steep price with face burns that somehow cost him some playing time. His surly manager, Mike Hargrove, couldn't have been happy, and this "O's fan," who posted on a Baltimore blog called "Hencio," summed up Marty's injury better than we ever could: "Like many other O's fan, I'm disappointed, Marty, that your .300 average is out of the lineup. We're four games under .500 and we're slumping. We need you on the field and out in the sun, not in the dugout with your face covered in Noxema. Heal up but smarten up, 'cause we need you, bro. And put on some sunblock for God's sake ..."
8. "The Final Cut," by Adam Eaton, San Diego Padres, 2001
The heart-warming part of this story is that Eaton kept a pocket knife that was given to him by his grandfather. The truly sad part of this story is that Eaton stabbed himself in the abdomen with said pocket knife while attempting to open a package that contained two DVDs. Here's how he told it recently to MLB.com's Phillies reporter, Ken Mandel: "I won the Sports Illustrated Award for dumbest injury of the year. I didn't get anything for it, just more recognition for being dumb. I'm so proud. The funniest thing was at the ER, the guy was like, 'Did you do this on purpose?' Now, any time I'm around a family member with a knife, usually somebody says, 'Do you want me to do that for you?'" The movies, if you're scoring at home, were "Happy Gilmore" and "Backdraft."
9. "Only In My Dreams," by Glenallen Hill, Toronto Blue Jays, 1990
The facts of the case are this: Hill suffered cuts on his feet and legs when he woke up from a bad dream and fell onto a glass table. The story, however, well, let's just let him explain it, which he did in the New York Times: "'I have a phobia about spiders,' Hill said. 'In the nightmare, I was trying to get away from spiders.' Hill said he bounced off a wall and climbed the 10 stairs in his apartment. 'When I woke up I was on a couch and my wife, Mika, was screaming, 'Honey, wake up!' he said. Realizing that his story seemed a little unbelievable, he offered to bring reporters to his home to see the blood stains."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.