HISTORY OF THE BROKEN HUMERUS
Coach John C. Price
The broken humerus is one injury the orthopedic surgeons, doctors, trainers and coaches do not even speculate on because they do not know what causes this phenomenon. Some doctors have said, “It was just a freak accident.” Tony Saunders doctor with the Devil Ray’s made this statement after Tony’s second humerus break in MLB, “The humerus bone had healed completely, how it happened again, I don’t know. I can’t even venture a guess.” One college player’s doctor told him, “The elbow was so much stronger after Tommy John surgery, the humerus could not stand the added velocity and this caused the humerus to break.”
Most players have a fear of throwing hard again after a serious injury, because no one tells them what caused the injury and it is not from overuse. Some players have broken their humerus or had a serious injury after a coach changed their throwing biomechanics for better control or added velocity. Anyone using the overhand delivery in a throwing activity could break the humerus if not in their natural throwing groove.
Karate teaches us the legs have seven times the power that the arms have and all power comes from the legs. If you are out of your natural throwing groove, even throwing at seventy percent can cause a serious injury to the arm, shoulder or elbow. When making a biomechanical error in your delivery, an acute one-throw injury can occur. Repetitive injuries can occur when a smaller error is being committed, often taking years before surgery is required to relieve the pain or damage to the arm. Many young baseball players drop out of baseball and go to other sports because of chronic pain when throwing.
Each and every player has a natural throwing groove and can be taught where it is on one throw. A player throwing from his natural throwing groove can make over four hundred pain free throws in a single day with no fear of injury. Many players that broke their humerus when throwing or pitching have decided to drop out of baseball, because their pain and fear was so great. No one could tell them what caused their injury or how to correct their throwing form. A player in his natural throwing groove will make fewer throwing errors.
Read some of the case histories below.
Take a look at more of baseballs history of the broken humerus below:
August 1884 The St. Paul Unions, Minnesota’s First Major League Team
Elmer Foster (broke humerus pitching a game) http://stewthornley.net/unions.html
About 1977 NY Mets Robert John Apodaca ( broke humerus pitching a game)
Date Unknown Amateur Shari ( Broke his humerus throwing a softball)
August 15, 1989 San Francisco Giants Dave Dravecky (pitching a game)
1994 Cincinnati Tom Browning (pitching a game)
June 4, 1997 Boston Red Sox Chris Rietsma, a minor league pitcher fractured his humerus near the elbow while pitching for Michigan in a game at Rockford in the Midwest League. Found in the 1999 Boston Red Sox Media Guide. As reported by the Asst. Dir., Media Relations, Minor League Baseball. www.MiLB.com
September 20, 1997 Cleveland’s John Smiley (warming up for a game) www.jsonline.com/sports/arc/brew/sat/aln101197.stm www.oakridger.com/stories/052799/spo_0527990060.html
May 26, 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays Tony Saunders (pitching against Texas)
August 2000 Tony Saunders (broke humerus again after 15 months rehab during the 3rd inning of his 5th minor league rehabilitation start. His orthopedic physician said “the humerus bone had healed completely”. “How it happened again, I don’t know. I can’t even venture a guess.”
Summer 2000 Rancho Bernardo H.S. Cole Hamels (Broke humerus pitching against Poway his Junior year.) http://www.nctimes.net/news/2002/20020305/85336.html
Look at him now in the 2006 season with the Philadelphia Phillies.
May 2000 Eastern New Mexico University Greg Stimack (broke humerus and had a full rotator cuff tear pitching possibly at J.K. Mullen H.S. before entering ENMU) Greg said he had Tommy John surgery earlier and the doctor told him that his elbow was so much stronger now that the humerus could not stand the added velocity he had after the Tommy John surgery and this is why his humerus broke. www.enmu.edu/athletics/news/press-releases/archives/2001/feb/2-26-01bsball.html
2002 Former Timber Rattler Phil Cullen (Broke his humerus throwing in the
Bullpen before a game at Fox Cities Stadium.) www.wisinfo.com/postcresent/sports/archive/sports_9545813.shtml
May 26, 2003 Granby High School Bryan Judicki (a junior RHP broke his humerus while pitching a game for Granby H.S. against South Hadley in the first inning)
Nate instantaneously collapsed in fear and pain. Nate suffered an orbital fracture of his right humerus. The doctor called it freak accident. Story by David Pevear, Sun Staff of the Lowell Sun - LEIBENOW IS CAPTAIN CRUNCH
March 2004 Sycamore High School, IL, Kyle Ullmark went down after five pitches into a game with rival, DeKalb. A loud pop rang throughout the field and the junior immediately fell to the ground in pain. X-rays showed a clean break of the humerus bone – the long bone of the upper arm from the shoulder to the elbow.
Story by Nick Gerts of the Midweek of the Daily Chronicle, Sycamore, IL
August 2, 2005 Atlanta Braves, Jay Powell was making his comeback after Tommy John surgery when he fractured his right humerus pitching in the ninth inning of Fridays game against Pittsburgh. He went into his windup with nobody out and delivered a pitch to home plate, but the ball sailed toward the third-base line while Powell collapsed with devastating pain in his right elbow. He under went season ending surgery. (Tuesday, 2 August 2005, The Sports Network reporting – KFFL.com)
January 11, 2005 William Conroy, age 20 was attending a Junior College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wrote: “I came across your web site called The Throw Center. I broke my humerus pitching on January 11, 2005 at practice. I had been getting pain in my inner elbow for a while. We were throwing a medicine ball and one of the times, my arm cracked and it made a pretty loud noise. I continued to throw. The next day, I was throwing and my coach asked me to try to extend my arm more at my release. I did, but on that throw, my arm broke and dangled there. When I got to the hospital, the x-rays showed I had two breaks, one was broken completely through and the other was like a diagonal crack. Surgery was not required, but the doctor watched to make sure it healed straight. I was released April 21, but the doctor told me not to throw for eight months. I have a huge fear of this happening again. Nobody knows what caused it to break.”
September 1, 2005, Richard Hernandez broke his humrus while playing in a recreational softball game as he had done for the last year twice a week. He said he was playing left field and fielded a routine base hit. Upon throwing the ball to the cutoff man who was the shortstop, his right humerus snapped resulting in a broken arm. He said the mystery to him is that he wasn’t throwing the ball with any tremendous force. He said he was about 70-75% of his maximum velocity. He said in his lifetime, he probably played in about 500 baseball games and never had problems with his arm other than the common sore arm every once in a while. He said he is not trying to become a pro as he is 25 years old, but he does enjoy playing recreational softball and would love to play without fear. He asked if there was anything The Throw Center could do for him. We received his letter January 6, 2005 and mailed him a response.
October 2005 Gary Gilkenson, age 19 wrote and said, I haven’t played fast pitch baseball in four years and have only played slow pitch softball. I was at a carnival seeing how fast I could throw and I was trying to break 80 mph. My humerus broke and the doctors put a steel plate in my arm with screws and a cast. It is now 11 weeks later and I just got my cast off. I thought it unusual so I wrote to The Throw Center for more information. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. 12/24/05 We responded to his letter in December 2005.
2004, Ryan age 12 broke his humerus on the first pitch during the summer in a game in 2004 while pitching for a select team in Arizona. His father was a college pitcher, but the father and Ryan were afraid for Ryan to throw hard again. They summoned Coach Price from The Throw Center in Texas to work with Ryan for three days. Ryan’s high school coach now tells the father that Ryan will play for pay one day for he is very talented. Ryan will never break his humerus again while throwing or pitching a baseball.
2004, Adam, age 18 during his freshman year in college broke his humerus on his first pitch during fall ball in 2004. I informed the parents I could help him, but the parents said his college coaches would help him. Several months later, they wrote that he had broken it again above the first break while throwing a basketball. After healing, they flew Coach Price from Texas to Wisconsin to work with Adam. After three days of throwing from his natural throwing groove, he is set and will not break his humerus again while pitching or throwing a basketball.
2004, Christian Wolfe age 20, USMC said “ he broke his humerus while pitching on the weekends in South Carolina in 2004 while in the Marines. The doctors attached a ten inch steel plate onto his humerus using steel screws to hold it in place. They told Christian he would never pitch again.” Christian’s dream is to pitch in college one day. The Throw Center helped get him into his natural throwing groove when he returned from Iraq in August 2006. We can’t promise him that he will make a college pitcher, but we will do everything we know how to make it possible. He will never break his humerus again while throwing or pitching after working with us at The Throw Center for a week. Christian’s plans are to pitch in college in Pennsylvania beginning in January 2007.
2005, Patrick Reilly, age 26 broke his humerus pitching in an old timers game in Boston, Mass. His delivery is sidearm. Makes no difference when you make an error in your throwing biomechanics, injuries will occur. We responded to his letter.
Recovery from the broken humerus is the same as recovery from elbow or shoulder surgery for it takes time for healing. It is so much faster during rehab when the player understands what caused his injury and how to throw without pain or fear of injury when he begins to throw again. Many players with chronic pain have taken the option of surgery to relieve the pain when all they needed was an adjustment in their throwing biomechanics and this can be done on one throw. One MLB manager in 2005 made this statement, “When a player has a sore elbow I believe it is faster to operate on the elbow than to let it heal naturally.” Is this the belief in all of major league baseball today?
The Throw Center believes all injuries to the arm, shoulder and elbow are caused when one makes an overhand throw when not in your natural throwing groove. If players at all levels are taught how to get into their natural throwing groove, it will reduce or eliminate the many injuries and surgeries that take place in baseball every day. The Throw Center hopes to help accomplish this one-day.