Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fate Throws a Curve Dunn's Career Ended by Injury

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fate Throws a Curve Dunn's Career Ended by Injury

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

This is the first summer in more than a decade that Todd Dunn hasn't wrapped his hands around a baseball bat on a daily basis.

The former Bishop Kenny and University of North Florida baseball star now spends days at his Mandarin home with his young son, Braden, and enjoys every family minute that eight years on the professional baseball circuit took away.

In daylight, when his vision is usually normal, he often wonders what he's doing back in Jacksonville, and why his bats lean idle in his garage.

At night, when his vision falters, he is reminded.

Dunn's career came to a painful end on May 11 of last year, when he was struck in the left eye by a foul ball while standing behind a batting cage during a round of batting practice with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder was left with damage to his night-time vision, which could be permanent.

Where his vision was once good enough to win a minor-league batting title, he now has difficulty with far easier tasks. The pupil in his bad eye at times swells to more than twice the size of his other pupil, and he sometimes sees spots and flashes of light.

"When it's raining, and overcast or dark, I really have trouble driving," Dunn said. "So something like picking up the spin on a curveball is obviously beyond me now."

Dunn, who will turn 31 on July 29, is receiving workman's compensation from the Mets while studying to become a licensed realtor.

What makes the injury even more difficult to swallow for Dunn is that it was preventable. The netting around the batting cage, normally tight enough for players to lean on the structure while watching their teammates hit, was inexplicably loose the day Dunn was hurt.

Chris Sheff, one of Dunn's closest friends on the team, was in the cage at the time. Sheff fouled a ball into the rear of the cage, and the netting was too loose to slow the ball, much less stop it.

"I got a ball on the outer half [of the plate], fouled it straight behind me, then I heard a grunt," said Sheff, now with the Triple-A Louisville RiverBats. "I turn around, and Todd's on the ground with his hand on his eye. There was no hole in the net, but it was so loose it didn't do anything to slow the ball down. I mean, Todd was standing 5 feet behind the cage, so it's not like he had his nose right on the net."

Dunn said Mets officials raced him to a retina specialist within 20 minutes.

"The doctor told me right there, 'You're probably all done [as a player],' " Dunn said. "I didn't know how to react to that. He said my sight could come back in weeks, months, or years, there was no telling. Now it's over a year, and I'm still having trouble with it."

Dunn attempted a comeback with Norfolk weeks later, but was unable to read fly balls in the outfield at night. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.