Injuries are hardly a rarity in baseball, but few have been more odd than the two that hit California's Moore League in the span of two weeks. In less than 14 days, the Southern California high school conference lost arguably its two best players to freak injuries, with Lakewood (Calif.) High senior star Tyler Schultz falling victim to a broken scapula and Long Beach Wilson (Calif.) High senior Sean Buckle suffering a broken neck.
While a broken neck might sound like an odd-enough baseball injury on its own, the manner in which Wilson's undisputed super star suffered the break in his C-2 vertebrae was even more strange: According to the Long Beach Gazettes, Buckle, pictured at right, injured himself while diving for a frisbee on the beach.
"It was just a freak accident down at the Bay playing Ultimate Frisbee with some teammates," Buckle told the Gazettes. "I dove for the Frisbee and my head hit the sand."
If there was any question about just how significant a loss Buckle's departure represents, one need only look at his stats from the early part of the 2011 season. In 15 innings pitched, the starter had racked up an astounding 0.50 ERA. On the days when the Loyola Marymount signee was in center field, Buckle hit .424 with 12 RBIs, reportedly batting in the Bruins' No. 2 slot.
In fact, no one had seemed to find any kind of a weakness in Buckle's game, either at the plate or on the mound. All of which makes his departure due to a sand injury all the more startling.
"As a team, we're losing a potential MVP candidate for the Moore League because of everything he brings to the team," Wilson coach Andy Hall said told the Gazettes. "He leaves some really big shoes to fill.
"It breaks your heart to see a really good kid like Sean have his senior year taken from him when he was just having fun at the beach. I will definitely miss him on the field, but I am much more concerned about his well being and that he is able to do everything he wants to do moving forward in his life. We'll know more in a couple days, but it is definitely a big blow to all of us at Wilson, because he's a great kid and a very good leader."
For his part, Schulz's broken scapula was ruled a compression fracture, with the injured shoulder blade ruling the catcher and team captain out for the bulk of his senior campaign. While broken scapulas may be more common baseball injuries than broken necks, that hardly made the departure of either star easier to take for their respective teams, or the Moore League as a whole, as Lakewood's coaching staff made clear in a statement to the Gazettes.
"We are very saddened to hear of Sean's accident. He is a very well liked and well-respected kid that was having an outstanding year in so many different facets of the game. It's a shame that two great kids like Sean and our Tyler Schultz (out with broken scapula) aren't around for the final part of the season, because they both brought so much to the game for our teams."