The Glory and the Pain of Pitching
Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images
By BOB OJEDA
I’d lived with pain in my left arm since I was 12, when my dad would have me ice it after a Little League outing. My dad, who had pitched in the Army, was something of a pioneer in caring for young arms. Besides, he told me, Sandy Koufax iced his arm.
“Right, Dad,” I said. “Let’s ice it.”
But this time, the pain was brutal, and, well, I wasn’t in Little League anymore. It was 1986, and I was set to start Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Astros in Houston. I’d won 18 games in my first season with the Mets. I’d pitched a complete game in a 5-1 victory over the Astros in Game 2.
But damn. I mean, it hurt. Like a screwdriver was stuck in it. So, after years of ice, pain medicine, massage and sleeping in long-sleeved shirts to keep my left arm warm and safe, the team doctor said I had only one option left — to stick something in it. Like a needle. With something powerful in the vial.