Give Koyie Hill a Hand

I may be a cynic, but this story is one that really impressed me. Koyie Hill isn’t likely to ever become much more than backup catcher at the major league level, his stats there are less than inspiring, but his recall on Monday to the Cubs is one of the more unlikely stories of the season. That’s because last October, while building a window frame for his home, the wood got stuck in his table saw and when attempting to free it, Hill sliced his thumb, pinkie, ring and middle fingers clear through. Rushing to a hospital, a hand specialist was called in and Hill’s digits were able to be reattached. Knowing he was a ballplayer, when the doctors were fixing his hand, adding some bones into his middle finger to replace ones that were lost, the doctors fixed the hand to fit a baseball perfectly, as Hill says:

Catching is easy. Thank God it wasn’t my left hand. They added enough bones to my middle finger to where it moves some. They had me hold a ball in my left hand to see where my finger was placed so when they sewed it back on it was fixed in a position. So you could say it was actually built for playing baseball now, which is something a baseball player always wanted.

Hill asked the Cubs to keep his injury from the public and after several months of rehab and working with coaches, he was able to get back to his business of playing ball. Even though doctors told him his career was likely over, Hill refused to accept that, finishing the AAA season with a .275 average at Iowa along with 17 home runs, 24 doubles and 64 RBIs in 113 games.

“Now [the hand] is as good, or a little better,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to even be able to play. To be back here is a dream come true within itself. I never had a doubt I would play again. I just didn’t know what level and what limitations my hand [was] going to allow me to play.

“The first couple of months, when it was 30 degrees, I felt like I had frozen carrots for fingers. It didn’t feel good to hold a bat, let alone swing it. To make contact was even worse.”

Today, Hill is once more back in the majors, and on a World Series contender no less. While he doesn’t figure to be a major part of the playoffs team, if he even makes the roster, just being back up has to be more than enough for Hill who hasn’t lost his sense of humor throughout this whole ordeal. The hardest part of all this for him? “You had to learn how to give high-fives all over again.”

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