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After frightening injury, David Newhan attempting comeback with Padres

Mar 15, 2011, 12:46 AM EDT

Last week I published a seven-part series on the difficulties players face on the road to the major leagues.

Now comes the story of a player trying to make it back.

John Maffei of the North County Times has all the details of the comeback opportunity the San Diego Padres are giving to David Newhan, a jack-of-all-trades infielder/outfielder who played the last of his eight major leagues seasons in 2008.

Newhan is trying to come back from a neck injury he suffered in a surfing accident in late 2009. He injured his C2 vertebrae while diving off his surf board and hitting a sand bar. The injury, reports Maffei, is known as “The Hangman’s Fracture,” and is the same injury that left actor Christopher Reeve a quadriplegic.

“I really don’t know why I’m breathing or why I’m not in a wheelchair,” Newhan said. “The fact I’m not is a blessing. I’ve been given another opportunity, and I’m trying to make the most of it.”

The Padres are giving the 37-year-old Newhan a chance to make a comeback. And though they are not committing to Newhan even making the Triple-A roster, they say they’ll find a spot for him somewhere in the organization if he wants it.

There is a lot more in Maffei’s story, so be sure to check it out here.

Neck injuries are a weird and unpredictable thing. Back in the day when I was in the newspaper world covering high school sports, I did a story on a kid who had surgery to repair a broken neck. The injury was discovered during a routine hospital checkup following a car accident. He might have suffered the injury when he fell out of a tree as a boy, or doing any of a number of things that kids do. The doctors really didn’t know, just that the injury was an old one.

Meanwhile, this kid was an all-league safety on his high school football team and an aggressive center fielder who would sell out chasing down fly balls. At any point he could have messed himself up by hitting an opponent the wrong way or landing funny while making a diving catch. But he was lucky, and everything worked out fine.

Whether or not his comeback is successful, David Newhan is also lucky. Can he make the majors? “Crazier things have happened.” He should know.

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  1. jwbiii - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    I had no idea. I thought he was retired and blogging from his father’s basement.
    Best of luck!

  2. cur68 - Mar 15, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    The fact that he was a pro athlete, and a pitcher at that, might have something to do with his luck. I am friends with a lady who’s daughter did the exact same thing; dove head first into a sand bar and broke her neck; classic hangman. However, because the young lady was a competitive swimmer, her well developed muscles kept the neck column in line and prevented a serious neural injury. Her xrays were quite remarkable; the break was being perfectly supported by her strong, neck, shoulder and upper back muscles. Maffei, as a pitcher, would have much the same buildup of muscle. Moral of the story; exercise. It really can save your neck.

    • BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

      Christopher Reeve was a big dude and was pretty darn muscle bound as well. Neck injuries are so weird. A 16th of an inch one way and you’re a quadraplegic. A 16th of an inch the other way, and you can recover. Hope this guy makes it back even if its for a limited time.

      • cur68 - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        Good example and worth noting. I think Reeve is a classic example of how much ones kinetic energy plays a role in these things. It’s almost as much about what happens after the impact as well as the impact it self. In water; hit and float (depending on the wave conditions) vs dry land and hit and bounce and roll and get stepped on by a horse (or any huge beast like defensive lineman) = 2 different outcomes. Also, the swimmer/pitcher scenario is different from the casually in shape person; specifically tuned up muscles that are worked to make the area of the injury quite well supported vs an over all fitness with out emphasis on the neck area. It would, of course, be ludicrous to say we should all train like a pitcher or swimmer to offset the small chance of this kind of injury, but it sure makes me feel better about all that upper body work I do. Now; must go do neck bridges…

  3. janetwallick - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:19 AM

    Companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. look line for “Auto Insurance Clearance” on the web

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