There's no denying that lefty Matt Imhof was dealt one of the worst hands a guy could hope to get. At the age of 22, Imhof was moving up the ranks of the Phillies minor league system and was simply going about his routine after pitching in a game in Brevard County, doing band exercises. He had already done a number of exercises, standing about 25 feet away from the wall that the bands were mounted to. As he worked through his next set of exercises, his world changed in an instant. Here's how Imhof described the moment in an article he wrote for ESPN.com.
I saw a flash of silver and then felt the metal hook smash into my face. Everything went numb as I hit the ground screaming. I could feel the warmth of the blood running down my face and taste it in my mouth. I couldn't breathe. I tried to move and look around, but my vision was blurry.
Everything was shaking so violently that I didn't know which way was up. After a couple of minutes, my trainer, Mickey Kozack, got me seated on the table. At that point, my face was swollen and all I could do was spit up blood in between dry heaves. I was convinced my nose was broken, but the pain had gotten so intense I couldn't tell where it was coming from. All I knew was I wanted it to stop.
The end result was that even the best doctors at the country's best eye hospital couldn't save Imhof's right eye from the trauma that the metal bracket had inflicted. There was initial hope that possibly they could save his vision, but Imhof was warned of the doubts that doctors had and eventually came to accept them.
Imhof used the ESPN article to announce his retirement from the game that he loves, but left the door open to pursuing a career as a pitching coach. He's returned to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in business and is also serving as an undergraduate pitching coach for the school's baseball team.
In the article, Imhof game a glimpse into how he sees his future playing out.
"To be completely honest, I don't know what is next for me. I want a career that allows me to make a positive impact on the community, but I'm still trying to find the best fit. I re-enrolled in classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I'm currently finishing my degree in business finance and I'm the undergraduate assistant pitching coach to the baseball program. I don't know if my career lies in coaching or in business, but I do know that I cherish every moment I'm able to step on the diamond and help these kids achieve their dreams. I have never doubted my ability to be successful in life and I don't plan on starting now; whether it's a baseball field or a boardroom, I know my future is bright."
In the article Imhof details the things that he's had to go through since losing the eye, including having to relearn how to navigate steps and work his way through crowds. Ultimately, Imhof has accepted what happened and is picking up his life in another direction, but refers to that day in June as the worst day of his life. He talks about the Matt Imhof that walked into that training room that night as being dead, with a new Matt Imhof taking his place.
Matt Imhof career stats
|All Levels (3 Seasons)||13||10||3.69||43||38||173.0||1.428||8.0||0.8||4.8||7.6||1.58|