Fingers, and Why We Like Them Still Attached to Our Hands

This is one of the more amazing comback stories I’ve ever heard.

Cubs’ Hill back in big leagues after harrowing injury

By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/1/2008 8:58 PM

There were nights this past spring, when the temperature dipped into the 30s, that Koyie Hill said his fingers felt like “frozen carrots.”

There were days, when he wasn’t hitting well, that Hill thought seriously about asking the Cubs if they had a coaching job for him somewhere.

But Hill is still playing, and Monday’s call-up from the minor leagues was gratifying on so many levels.

The 29-year-old Hill, a jourmeyman catcher, was making a wood window frame for his house last Oct. 16 when he suffered a horrific injury, one that nearly cost him four of the fingers on his right hand.

“I don’t talk about it much,” said Hill, the son of a master carpenter. “It’s just an accident with a table saw, something I’ve done a million times before. I was using a saw that’s really bad about grabbing, and grabbed, and there it went.”

There went Hill’s thumb, his pinkie finger, his ring finger and half of his middle finger. Although Hill said he didn’t have to pick any of his fingers up off the floor, he said some were hanging by small pieces of skin.

“This one, this one and half of this one,” he said, matter-of-factly, pointing at the mangled digits. “It cut my thumb off first, went through all the muscle in my thumb, and it went back this way and turned it and cut all four tendons and all four fingers and all four ligaments. They don’t move anymore.”

When it happened, Hill wasn’t thinking about baseball. He was thinking about saving his fingers and his hand.

Wow. Just go read the whole thing.

Koyie Hill had a nice call-up for a while with the big league club last year, and in his starts, the Cubs went 17-8. I grew to like the kid in that short timespan, since he seemed to understand the primary roles of the catcher: call a good game, and catch everything you can reach.

I never knew any of this had happened, because at Hill’s request, the team never released any news on it.

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3 comments
  1. Mike said:

    Great article, JB. I wasn’t aware of this. I hope he contributes to the club by the end of the month. It’s a shame that Z’s favorite catcher gets called up and Z’s not available.

    You and I are dinosaurs, huh? You mentioned a catcher’s primary functions:

    call a good game, and catch everything you can reach.

    I should warn you that it’s illegal to think that way on the internet.

  2. Maybe we should invent a new stat that quantifies those two things, and give it a goofy name, and then the stat geeks will get excited about the value a good catcher brings to a whole team?

  3. Mike said:

    The sad part is… eventually, they will do a better job of quantifying defense and will highlight its importance. Can you say D-Rays? Their catcher isn’t the greatest wall behind the plate, but he’s gotten a lot out of that pitching staff… and controls the running game well. And then there’s that infield defense. Wow.

    But JB, as we’ve learned from the stat geeks, defense just doesn’t matter that much. It only affects one or two games per year. So, let’s take a look at their own stat, ‘Defensive Efficiency’. I’m not a fan of the stat, but since it’s theirs, check this out:

    1. D-Rays
    2. Cubs
    5. Mets
    6. Brewers
    7. Red Sox
    8. Angels
    9. Phillies

    Is it me… or do those sort of look like the best teams in baseball? I guess the White Sox and Twinkies are out there too… but it doesn’t diminish what these numbers seem to indicate. Plus, there’s the fact that these are not all top ten teams when it comes to runs on offense.

    Yep, we’re dinosaurs, JB… because we like those boring qualities that help teams win.