Local baseball player Michael Traupman was enjoying another spring on the diamond, before a freak accident changed his season, and his life.
Traupman, 13, is a player for Right Reality of Cranston’s Babe Ruth league. During a game toward the end of the regular season, he was helping warm up the team’s pitcher in between innings, and was struck in the eye by an accidental errant throw from a teammate.
Traupman’s injuries were significant, as he suffered an orbital fracture, hyphemia (bleeding inside the eye), traumatic mydriasis (tearing of the muscle that makes the pupil round), commotio retina (bruising), a concussion, and a handful of others.
Although Traupman has since recovered, he is still suffering from minor issues such as light sensitivity, and he is now at high risk for glaucoma in the future. Traupman missed a month of action, as well as the remainder of the school year.
“I was on 24-hour bedrest. It was very boring, I couldn’t watch TV or anything, I just had to keep my head up. I was also out of school, they told me that I was going to have to miss the remainder of the year. I was completely devastated, they were not sure if I would go blind or lose the eye, it was very scary,” said Traupman of the recovery process.
His team managed to make the postseason, and would advance all the way to the league championship game. After a month on the sidelines, Traupman not only returned to action, but competed in the championship match against Elmwood Sports and earned MVP honors.
“(My coaches) were afraid that I would have PTSD, but I was really excited to get back out there. I just wanted to play my game and do my best. I don’t know how to explain it; it was just the perfect ending to the story. The coaches were excited to have me there, they always felt like I was a big part of the team, my mom was crying, it was great,” said Traupman.
Traupman was thrilled to be able to recover and rejoin his teammates. However, he feels that his story should be considered by all baseball and softball leagues in the country, and that protective eyewear should become a mandatory piece of equipment. The National Eye Institute states that baseball is the leading cause of eye injuries among children ages 14 and under. Eye injuries account for roughly 100,000 emergency room and doctor visits per year.
“It should be made mandatory by the director of the league; it should come with the uniform. They’re like 15 bucks, the league should be able to afford them. They’re so important, and it’s so risky being out there,” said Traupman. “I think one voice can change things; I’ve seen what one person can do. One voice can change the game forever and I really hope it does.”