Garner’s collision draws fame

By on April 30, 2014
Tommy Garner

Tommy Garner

Warwick senior outfielder Tommy Garner felt like he had a good read on a long fly ball to right-center off the bat of Cocalico’s Jake Terry last Wednesday, April 23.

Despite the wind carrying the ball to the deepest part of Cocalico’s field, it was only a matter of time until Garner tracked it down.

Just then, however, his chase came to a crashing halt.

In full speed pursuit, Garner collided head-on with a pole in the outfield fence. Constructed in the shadows of the Eagles’ football stadium bleachers, the fence comes to a 90-degree angle, then extends deeper into the field of play. It was at that point where Garner’s world was turned upside down, with the impact literally knocking him off his feet and sending his hat, glove and sunglasses flying.

“I was going back, I knew the pole was there somewhere and I remember thinking I must have missed it because the ball just kept going,” Garner recalled. “I was there to get the ball and then I nailed the pole. I knew right away what I hit and it just hurt like crazy.”

Collisions are nothing new for Garner, a star for the Warrior football team. This one, though, wasn’t typical on the baseball field.

“It felt like a crack block &tstr; running one way and a guy comes out of nowhere and just lays me out from the side,” said Garner, who plans to continue his football career playing outside linebacker at Lebanon Valley College. “Without pads on or anything, it was a new experience.”

The video clip, caught on camera by Blue Ridge Cable-11, has become popular on YouTube, already attracting hundreds of viewers.

“It’s sparked a lot of conversations,” Garner said.

Just imagine how viral the video would have gone if Garner had squeezed the ball in his glove.

“Everybody asks, ‘Why didn’t you catch it?,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Well, the ball didn’t stop right at the pole. I stopped at the pole but the ball didn’t. It kept going a little bit.’”

Bob Locker, the head coach for Warwick’s baseball and football teams, acknowledged that he’s never seen anything like it.

“Nothing,” Locker said. “And the fact that he got back up, smiled, asked where his sunglasses were and finished the game was pretty incredible because he hit that thing pretty hard. He’s a tough kid.”

Locker’s initial reaction, like everyone at the game, was one of concern that Garner was seriously injured. As Terry pulled into third base with a triple, the game was halted while teammates, umpires and Cocalico’s trainer rushed to Garner’s side.

“I’m thinking he’s knocked out,” Locker said, “get the ambulance, is he going to have to go to the hospital … he was running full speed.”

Garner’s crash brought back memories of a Phillies game in 2006, when center fielder Aaron Rowand smashed into the center field fence while catching a long fly ball off the bat of the New York Mets’ Xavier Nady.

So who’s collision was worse?

“I don’t know,” Garner laughed. “(Rowand) broke his nose, but I think mine looks a lot harder.”

Indeed, while Rowand underwent seven hours of surgery to repair his nose, Garner fortunately escaped with a minor cut and scrape near his left eye, along with abrasions on his left arm.

“When you see (the collision), the blow to the head was glancing,” Locker said. “It wasn’t straight on. He hit it on the side and kinda went past it and then went to it with his shoulder. So it’s a little deceiving in terms of how he actually hit the pole, but he hit it going pretty fast.”

Dr. Mark Perezous checked Garner at the game, and then once Warwick returned to the high school after defeating Cocalico 5-1, Athletic Trainer Sheila Conley looked over Garner as well.

“It was determined he didn’t need (a concussion test) because he didn’t have any symptoms,” Conley said. “We do a sideline test &tstr; we ask him a few questions and he did fine on that, so we don’t do the impact test (in that case).”

“My head doesn’t hurt at all or anything. No confusion, no dizziness. Right at my cheekbone, when I chew that’s the only thing that hurts,” Garner said during an interview on Saturday. “It’s going away now, but the first few days were pretty bad chewing.”


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