Eric Weddle: How getting beaned in the face changed Weddle's life
Back at the ballpark, emotions got the best of both teams. When the A.B. Miller pitcher who hit Eric came up to bat, Alta Loma’s pitcher got the signal to hit him and hurled a hard fastball that landed in the middle of his back. He eventually trotted down to first base.
“Unfortunately, they got Eric a lot worse than we got their guy,” Secrist said.
The rest of the first game and the second game were played without incident and Secrist found Weddle at the hospital after the game.
Eric returned to the lineup by the end of the season, but he was not the same player. His defensive skills were still solid, but mentally he struggled to stay in the batter’s box.
“I went from being one of the best players, batting .550, to not being able to do it mentally, hitting .200. I thought I was mentally tough,” Eric said with disappointment. “But I couldn’t hit the ball. I couldn’t understand the fear. I worked on it but just couldn’t overcome it. I finished out the season, but I quit playing. I’ve always been able to overcome things, and to this day it still bugs me that I couldn’t overcome a ball to the face. But I think things worked out for the best.”
His coach patiently worked with his young star but to no avail.
“It was a sad day when he moved on,” Secrist said. “Obviously, as a baseball coach you are a little possessive. With him making the decision not to play baseball, we were losing a great player who was instrumental in the success of our program overall. It was players like Eric that I was building a proper foundation for our program around, and it would have been nice to have him around for two years. But I wanted to be supportive, and I knew football was the sport for him.”
Looking back, the fastball to the face was a destiny-defining event for Eric. He reflected on how things might have gone.
“If that pitch doesn’t happen,” Eric said, “I probably finish out playing baseball, probably end up getting drafted or playing baseball in college, don’t end up going to Utah, maybe I don’t join the LDS Church, and maybe I don’t see Chanel again, although I would like to think some of those things would still come to pass. It’s crazy to consider how different life might be if that doesn’t happen. It’s crazy to think about how it changed the course of my life.”
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