10/22/07 5:00 PM ET
Heart of the Order: Aaron Cook
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Cook said before the season that he plans to go into the ministry after his playing career.
"I haven't taken any classes, but I've got a buddy who is a pastor of a church and I've got a lot of family members who are pastors," Cook said. "It's something I'm really passionate about."
Cook's lifelong passion for religion was nudged along by a well-publicized incident that could have ended his life. On Aug. 7, 2004, Cook suffered dizziness and shortness of breath during a start against the Reds at Coors Field. After talking with team medical personnel, Cook was taken to Rose Medical Center in Denver, where doctors discovered he had blood clots that had formed in his right shoulder and moved to his lungs.
In the first surgery, on Sept. 10, doctors removed the top rib on his right side to relieve compression on a vein, and a vein in his right wrist was re-routed. He underwent a second procedure designed to return blood flow to normal.
The condition is known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but Cook has taken time to make sure that people are aware of the danger of blood clots. He was invited to the fan festival at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh to hand out information and talk to fans about Deep Vein Thrombosis, which commonly affects the legs.
Doctors gave Cook the rib. But one day, he noticed an odd sound while his young son, Elijah, then a toddler, was playing along with a children's music video. The rib made a nice drumstick. He and his wife, Holly, have two children, Elijah and Alexis, a daughter.
Cook made such a strong return from the surgery in late 2005 that he was chosen for the Tony Conigliaro Award, which is presented annual to a player who makes a graceful and determined return from adversity.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.