Wheaton College and Weymouth native Chris McDonough was well on his way to working his way back to playing semi-professional baseball last summer, coming back from an arm injury as he was playing in the Yawkey League All-Star Game at Fenway Park. That all changed after one pitch.
As McDonough reared back to fire one into the catcher in the early innings, he suffered a complete break of the humerus bone, which connects the elbow to the shoulder. The crack was so loud, cameras at the park that day picked it up loud and clear.
Within minutes after being taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, he quickly realized his dream of making it back to semi-pro ball was over.
“I knew right away my arm was broken,” the 28-year-old McDonough said. “It was more of a shock that it was a pretty big injury doing something I’ve done a million times before. I was in shock for a little while. It was a shock and panic thing all at once. Then the realization that I was never going to be able to pitch again set in about half hour after I did it. It wasn’t the best feeling I’ve ever experienced, to say the least.”
McDonough set all kinds of pitching records at Wheaton and then went on to play with the Brockton Rox before being traded to a team in Kentucky in the Frontier League. After a short time there he found himself back home playing for the Al Thomas A’s of the amateur Yawkey Baseball League and after suffering an injury two years ago he was fully expecting to be back playing semi-professionally this summer.
Now McDonough is forced to being strictly a designated hitter for those same Al Thomas A’s, but he has a new respect for the game he has always loved.
“It’s definitely a lot different,” McDonough said. “I’ve played before not pitching, but it was always in my mind that I could pitch and play the field. It’s definitely a lot less playing time, but I always have fun out here playing with a lot of good friends and my brother. I’ve definitely taken a step back and [I now] enjoy the game more.”
This Wednesday McDonough will step onto St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, but not for the Al Thomas A’s. McDonough will be playing in the 20th Annual Oldtime Baseball Game founded by Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley. Stories like these often go unnoticed, but Buckley brings these types of players together, along with some local young stars for a game where players feature a dazzling collection of flannel uniforms that represent virtually every era in baseball history and raise money for a different charitable organization.
This year’s game will be played as a benefit for the Scleroderma Foundation of New England. Also special to this year’s game is the return of former Boston College baseball player Peter Frates, who in 2012 was diagnosed with ALS. He made a dramatic appearance as a player in last year’s game, and has chosen to remain with the Oldtime Baseball Game as a coach with his younger brother Andrew playing.
“It’s great, I know they don’t ask everyone to play in these games,” McDonough said. “It shows the kind of guy that [Buckley] is. He is true to his word when he said I could play. I am getting a chance to DH and get an at-bat when they technically don’t have DH’s. It definitely meant a lot to me to get the call when he told me I was going to play.”
McDonough is just one of a few of the terrific stories that will be on display this Wednesday night. Fans line the foul lines in beach chairs and towels, making for a unique, and special night of baseball - one enjoyed by all and most importantly, all benefitting a worthy cause.
20th Annual Oldtime Baseball Game Wednesday, Aug.21, 2013. St. Peter’s Field, Cambridge, 7 p.m.. Admission is free. For more info, click here.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84