Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus

By John Theodore | Go to book overview

9
Comeback

Acombination of father confessor and Simon Legree"—that's how Eddie Waitkus described Frank Wiechec during their winter at Clearwater Beach. Papa Wiechec, as Waitkus called him, was much more to the injured ballplayer than just a physical therapist and trainer. When Waitkus struggled and became depressed, it was Wiechec who listened with a sympathetic ear. “Frank felt the wrath of all my worries and my pent up fears, ” said Waitkus. “I don't think he ever took a drink before in his life, but he went along with me for a beer every night and we talked like buddies in the army used to talk. ”

Wiechec was a perfect match for Waitkus. He was young and intelligent— with bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Temple University— and he had the confidence of everyone in the Phillies organization. “Frank was the closest thing to a doctor we had on the team, ” said Maje McDonnell, the Phillies' batting practice pitcher. McDonnell was correct in his analysis of Wiechec, who left a teaching job at Temple late in 1948 to join the Phillies. Wiechec had spent four years as a supervisor and instructor of physical therapy at the Mayo Clinic. He brought a scientific approach to training baseball players. Trainers in the past had used an assortment of liniment, oil of wintergreen, and rubbing alcohol to treat the myriad of ailments major league ballplayers faced during the long season.

Wiechec possessed the knowledge to stop problems before they became worse. If he thought an injury might bring on future complications, he called for an X-ray at once; if a player complained of a sore throat, Wiechec had a thermometer in his mouth; bruises and sore arms were iced down immediately to help prevent blood clots.

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Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Foreword xv
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction xxiii
  • Major League Career Statistics for Eddie Waitkus xxv
  • Baseball's Natural *
  • 1 - Room 1297 A 1
  • 2 - Building a Dream 6
  • 3 - A Sealed Fate 12
  • 4 - A Swift Judgement Day 16
  • 5 - East Cambridge and Beyond 20
  • 6 - Chicago to Philadelphia 31
  • 7 - Baseball Annies 41
  • 8 - Clearwater Beach 47
  • 9 - Comeback 55
  • 10 - Kankakee State Hospital 61
  • 11 - All the Game's Wild Glory 66
  • 12 - Hero's Journey 83
  • 13 - In the Shadows 89
  • 14 - No Sentiment in Baseball 95
  • 15 - A Quiet Existence 105
  • 16 - Hidden Enemy 115
  • 17 - The Pleasure of Your Own 122
  • 18 - Lost Hero 131
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