06/07/11 10:45 PM EST
Rox at end of Thomore's road to recovery
Eleven months after scary injury, outfielder taken in Round 2
By Nick Kosmider / MLB.com
Thomore's father, Ken, was just hoping that his son would be able to walk again.
So the elation that both felt when Carl Thomore was drafted by the Rockies in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday -- 77th overall -- was hard to describe.
Thomore, a highly touted prep prospect from East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, was playing in a Perfect Game USA summer showcase tournament in Georgia last July, when a slide into third base went horribly wrong.
Thomore's ankle got caught in a rough patch of dirt, and the resulting injury filled the crowd with gasps and left his father as white as a ghost.
"When I hopped on the field, for me, it was like a Joe Theisman-type of thing," said Ken Thomore, referring to the horrific injury that ended the former NFL quarterback's career. "[His foot] was turned the wrong way, and the first thing I thought of, obviously, was him walking correctly again. It was that bad."
Thomore suffered a fracture and dislocation of his ankle, and his foot had no pulse. To make matters worse, a tornado watch in the area meant it would take at least an hour for an ambulance to arrive. But as fate would have it, an orthopedic surgeon, in the stands to watch his son play the next game, was on the scene. After assessing the severity of the injury, the surgeon asked Thomore and his father if they would allow him to reset the ankle in order to restore blood flow.
Both told the surgeon to perform the procedure, and he reset the ankle as Thomore bit down on a towel in an attempt to numb the pain that was searing through his body.
"I thought I was never going to play again, to be honest," Thomore told MLB.com on Tuesday. "My ankle was just so mangled up that I never thought I'd step on a field again. But I busted my [behind] and it got me here."
Initially horrified by the sight of the grotesque injury, Ken Thomore said he knew his son would be back on a baseball field again shortly after the surgeon reset the ankle, right there along the third-base line.
"He said, 'Dad, it doesn't look that bad,'" Ken Thomore recalled. "He said to the doctor, 'Hey Doc, am I going to be ready for the Area Code [Baseball] Games in two weeks?' I knew then that he was going to fight to come back."
That road back was a long one for Thomore, but he never held any doubt that we would be back on the field, continuing to fight for the dream that came to fruition on Tuesday. He had surgery to repair the ankle 10 days after the injury, and the following day, Thomore was in the gym with his father, working on his upper-body strength and determined to be "bigger, faster, stronger" than he was before the injury.
"You test yourself," Thomore, 18, said. "You see what kind of person you are, what kind of man you are and what kind of ballplayer you are."
Thomore has been tested from a young age. When he was 12, his mother, Michele, passed away from breast cancer. With Ken, a union ironworker for the past 30 years, working long hours to provide for his kids, Thomore was forced to grow up fast.
"It's a big fuel to my fire, my mom passing away," the younger Thomore said. "She's a big inspiration. I know she's looking down on me and smiling. She's proud."
With the support of his father, the memory of his mother and deeply instilled blue-collar work ethic in his favor, Thomore has overcome an injury he thought would end his baseball days. Instead, they are likely only just beginning.
"I'm going to get better every day," Thomore said. "In four years, I'll be an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies."
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.