To look at Torvar Guttensjold today, you wouldn't even think he was once an active, happy young athlete who had a golden arm and a talent for sports, particularly baseball. Torvar, at age 13, is in a wheelchair, talks haltingly, is visually impaired, and has trouble controlling the movement of his limbs.
Just last year, he was playing baseball on a Little League team in our town. He was the star pitcher of our team: he had it all. Looks, talent, drive, determination, the opportunity to go places ... until that fateful April afternoon when an opposing pitcher threw a powerful pitch that changed the life of this young boy forever.
And I was there at this particular game when it happened. I will never forget it as long as I shall live.
I still have nightmares of the sight of the ball smashing into the side of Torvar's head, and the sound: oh, God, the sound! It sounded just like a watermelon getting hit. From cheering and yells of encouragement soon came gasps of horror and cries of "O, my God! He's been hit!", then screams when Torvar collapsed onto the field, not rising again. We all knew immediately that he had been hurt.
The trainers and medical staff on call came rushing out onto the field, where they tended to the injured boy. Meanwhile, all I (and many others in the stands) could do was cry. And pray that Torvar Guttensjold would be okay somehow.
We knew he wasn't. He was unconscious and every so often, his body would start twitching all over as if going into a seizure. It was very scary, but not as scary as the sight of him being put upon the stretcher and being quickly rolled to a waiting ambulance, which had been brought onto the field. It then left, sirens silent; we were all sure that Torvar had been killed by the hit.
I felt bad for the guy on the opposing team: after all, it was he who had thrown the errant pitch. He looked sicker than a dog; couple of times I could see him leaning against the dugout, puking his guts out. His face was as green as a cucumber. He would have to live with this moment for the rest of his life.
So would we all.
For over a week, the news of the accident was splashed in our local papers. It was all over the news and on the lips of everybody at work and other places. Everyone was clamoring to hear the latest information about Torvar Guttensjold.
The news, as we were afraid of, was not good. Torvar Guttensjold suffered massive head trauma. If he did wake up again (which, at this time, appeared uncertain; he was currently in a coma in a local hospital), he would probably be left with catastrophic brain damage and would probably be severely disabled for the rest of his life.
Just like that, this promising young future baseballer's career had come to a screeching halt, and we were left with the horrible memory of seeing the accident unfold right in front of our very eyes.
Flash forward to the present day ....
Happily, Torvar Guttensjold woke up after three months in a coma, but the road back to normalcy has been very long and hard for him. A year later, he is still unable to walk and can't see more than a few feet ahed of him. His speech is noticably slurred and he cannot move his limbs without difficulty. He suffered severe brain damage and there is no telling whether he will fully regain his full capabilities back. It is a very sad ending to what could have been a future Hall of Famer at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
I have been praying for Torvar Guttensjold ever since this happened. I am praying for a miracle and I am praying for Ollie Timpkins, the kid who beaned Torvar last year (but seems like ages ago). I pray Ollie will be able to move on past the incident and learn to forgive himself. I do know this much: I know I will never forget The Beaning (as the incident has come to be known) and now I no longer play baseball because of this.