Philly.com was the first to report that Matt Imhof, one of the Philadelphia Phillies’ hottest pitching prospects, had his eyeball literally crushed in a freak accident that occurred before one of last week’s minor league games in Florida.
Imhof seems in amazingly good spirits for a young man who just lost his eye and, with it, the extreme amount of promise he held, and the 22 year-old former prospect shared an image of his current state on Instagram yesterday afternoon.
As many of you know on Friday June 25th I had an accident. A large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. I was immediately taken to the ER and then transferred to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the #1 eye hospital in the world. That night, the doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape. The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible to reconstruct it but in all likelihood I would never regain sight in my right eye. The first surgery was somewhat a success but overall nothing had changed, so after discussions with my family and my doctors, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in. This decision was not an easy one to make but to me it seemed like the right one so on Tuesday afternoon I went forward with the surgery. I'm currently still in Miami recovering from surgery but I'm doing well. This has been the hardest week of my life but I've had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it. For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well. Although this injury has been tough it could have been much worse…I'm lucky to still have vision in my left eye…I'm lucky that i didn't have brain damage…and I'm lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world. I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I'm not dead. I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna persevere, and I'm gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support .
Imhof’s life-shattering accident occurred when he was warming up before his pitching appearance for the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies’ high-A division affiliate. The young prospect was stretching out his arm by pulling an elastic resistance band anchored to the wall. Imhof was at the apex of one tug when the screws attaching the iron base to the wall came loose and the sharp iron projectile came towards his face.
Unfortunately for the prospect, the large iron base hit him at just the wrong spot and at just the right angle to completely decimate his right eye — medical experts would later tell him his eye was “crushed like a grape.”
— 4TheFit (@4thefit) April 9, 2016
Imhof was, of course, rushed to the hospital, and he soon found himself being treated at what is widely regarded as the best eye hospital in the world, Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. It was quickly discovered, though, that there was basically no chance the eye could be even partially salvaged, and Imhof and his doctors agreed that the best chance he had “to live a normal life” was to have the eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic one.
In what must have been an extremely difficult-to-accept decision, Imhof gave the physicians the okay to perform the eye surgery.
“This decision was not an easy one to make, but to me it seemed like the right one, so on Tuesday afternoon, I went forward with the surgery,” Imhof writes in his Instagram post, in which his damaged eye is covered with a bandage.
“This has been the hardest week of my life, but I’ve had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it.”
Publications like CBC Sports agree, however, that the level of resilience the young prospect is showing is truly remarkable and inspiring –not what you would expect from a young man who loses an eye.
“I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I’m not dead,” Imhof writes. “I’m going to be alright, I’m going to persevere, and I’m going to succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support.”
Way to find the silver lining, Matt!
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) June 28, 2016
Indeed, the prospect’s MLB hopes can still be realized. Obviously, losing an eye does not help matters, but Deadspin notes that there are several pitchers who have played professional baseball while suffering from significantly impaired visual capabilities. Take Abe Alvarez, for example, who pitched for the Boston Red Sox for three seasons even after a childhood infection rendered him blind in one eye. Or Julio Urias, a current starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who is nearly blind in his left eye.
If Imhof was a hitting prospect, his chances of making it in the MLB after his eye injury would likely be ruined, but pitchers can come back from losing an eye.
There was once a pitcher who played for the Yankees with only one hand, and he was really good.
The point is that Phillies fans needn’t give up hope as far as Imhof’s career is concerned just because he lost an eye.
In addition to the eye injury, the prospect says, he suffered a broken nose and two broken orbital bones.
[Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]