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“Keep Your Head In There !”

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

This is another in my series of stories about my childhood. You could guess that I am baseball nut. I was also a pretty good baseball player. I guess it was the result of watching all those New York Yankees and New York Giants games. I made the William Howard Taft baseball team. This is one of my baseball stories.

We were playing Cardinal Hayes High School at McCombs Field in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. This was the first or second game of the season. Cardinal Hayes is a well known catholic school in the Bronx. It always seemed to me that the guys on the Cardinal Hayes team looked bigger and stronger than we did. Someone told me they were a year older than us.

I am a lefty and therefore played first base. The only other position they put lefties in those days was right field. I always had the impression that the worst guy on the team was put in right field. I chose first base and turned out to be a pretty good first baseman.

It was a beautiful spring day and we were all excited to get the game started. Cardinal Hayes was designated the home team so Taft High School batted first. Being lefty, I batted second. SM our 5’4” 130 lb. centerfielder batted first.

The Cardinal Hayes pitcher was a very tall guy (about 6’4”). He looked like a giant on the mound. SM and I were in the batters circle warming up for our at bat. I noticed the big tall guy was fast but he couldn’t get a pitch over the plate.

I told SM to be careful because this guy was wild as hell. He assured me not to worry. Anyway the first pitch went right at SM and hit him in the head. We did not have helmets in those days. SM was unconscious and the ambulance was called.

It frightened the heck out of me. I had already made my mind up on how I was going to handle myself with this pitcher. Our coach HL knew me well. He had an idea how I was going to handle myself.

I was a pretty smart kid, actually within the top 1% of my class. My father had already decided my career path. He told me I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I became a doctor. It was settled. I had to strike out quickly and not give this pitcher a chance to hit me in the head.

If I got hit in the head there goes medical school. He could knock my brains out. I knew I could not disappoint my father. He would kill me. My strategy was set. I would swing at the first three pitches no matter where they were. HL, our, coach read my mind. He came running out of the dugout as I was approaching the batters box. There was a three quarter hour delay of the game in order to get SM to the hospital. I had plenty of time to think. HL came running up to me and shouted, “Stanley I want you to keep you head in there.” The last thing I was going to do was keep my head in there and HL knew it.

I had already concluded that I was going to blow this at bat. This guy would be out of there by the time I was at bat again. Needless to say, I had trouble getting out of the way of four wild pitches. They were so wild I did not have a chance to swing and miss. To my luck and my baseball career he walked me on four straight pitches. It disrupted my strategy. All I wanted to do was get safely into the dugout.

It turned out the 6’4” Cardinal High School pitcher walked the next two batters and was taken out of the game by his coach. We went on to score three runs and win the game despite their size and strength. It was not because we were so great. We just stuck in there even though we did not want to.

The lesson to be learned is never put you head in front of a fast ball. The healthcare system lesson to be learned from this story is even though they (the healthcare insurance industry) are bigger, more powerful and stronger you need to stick in there and do the right thing.

Remember there would be no healthcare system without the primary stakeholders, the patient and the physician.

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