Ft. Myers, FL - All over the country, High School baseball is heading for it's "second season" as most states are preparing for the start of the District Tournaments in the upcoming weeks. For most High School players around the country, it's baseball as usual this season. However, for one baseball player in particular, the phrase "Baseball as Usual" takes on an entirely different meaning altogether. For most, the skill that is required to hit a baseball, throw it or catch it, is second nature once they get to the High School level. Most players take the ability to do such basic tasks, for granted. Meet South Ft. Myers Sophmore Jordan Hair. For Jordan, just a short time ago, there almost was no "baseball as usual".
Jordan, like most kids that play baseball, started early in his life. At the age of 8, Jordan began really enjoying the game. His family could see he was really falling in love with playing. It was during his time in little league that Jordan was introduced to catching by his coach (and now High School coach) Chip Duncan. Right away, Jordan knew it was a position he would thrive at. He began to work hard on his own doing drills, stretching and hitting. Things were beginning to take shape for Jordan as he prepared to enter High School, but soon after, he would realize it was not just "baseball as usual".
While at practice one afternoon during his freshman year, Jordan was shagging fly balls. On one particular fly ball, Jordan dove to catch it, something most High School kids enjoy doing during batting practice. Upon landing after the dive, Jordan felt a discomfort. His family initially thought it was a cracked rib, and took Jordan to have it checked out, just to be safe. Doctors dismissed Jordan's pain as nothing serious and sent him on his way. But Jordan continued to experience discomfort. Time and time again he returned to the ER, only to be sent home by doctors saying it was nothing serious to worry about. Finally, on his 5th trip to the ER, Jordan began coughing up blood. This time, the doctors did not send him home. Jordan developed a blood clot that had passed through his heart and into his lung. A body scan revealed a "dark spot" on his lungs.
"We were so nervous," remembered Shelly Hair, Jordan's mom. "Here we are, watching doctors run all these tests on our 15 year old. We did not know what to think. We just kept praying that things would turn out alright."
Ammonia, Blood Clot or Cancer were the 3 things doctors suggested Jordan could have. Jordan spent 7 days in ICU, having tests run to determine what was causing his ailment. Doctors finally determined that Jordan had TOC, or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This Syndrome resulted in Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in his throwing shoulder, which in turn resulted in a Pulmonary Embolism. If left untreated, TOC can result in stroke or even death. Former All Star JR Richard (Houston Astros) had his career cut short by a stroke that was brought on by an untreated case of TOC. What happens, the overhead movement of the arm changes the orientation of the collar bone in a manner that can compress the subclavian artery and the vein against the first rib. In Jordan's case, a clot broke away from the compression site in his shoulder and traveled to the lungs, resulting in the embolism. Jordan knew the time had come to make some serious decisions. His family began researching the syndrome. The discovered it was not all that uncommon in "overhead" athletes, such as baseball players. They found out players such as Matt Harrison (Rangers), Noah Lowry (Giants), Jared Saltalamacchia (Red Sox), Hank Blalock and Jeremy Bonderman all have suffered from TOC.
"His father and I really felt like it was Jordan's choice to make," Shelly recalls. "He had a choice. Take blood thinners the rest of his life, which would end his baseball career, or have surgery to remove his first rib. The surgery would leave room for the vein so it did not pinch. It was his future, his dreams. We felt it was our job to support and guide him. We had to find the best surgeon we could because we both knew what decision he was going to make."
After having the procedure and enduring months of rehab to get back into baseball playing shape, Jordan returned to the field he loved. The difference now, Jordan sports two 4" scars on his right shoulder, a constant reminder of what nearly was. "They remind me to never take for granted a single day on the field. It reminds me to never stop working hard, because just like that, it can all be taken away," stated Jordan.
This year, Jordan is hitting .417 as a sophmore catcher, driving in 12 runs and slugging .583 This summer, Jordan will return to Prospectwire Travel Baseball as one of the main stars of it's 16U lineup.