Curtis Dahlgren
Mental health, demons, and shootings; part II
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By Curtis Dahlgren
June 11, 2022

"Cut the days short for the elect's sake, Father." – conclusion to my previous column

I DIDN'T PLAN to post a column today, but I just wrote something interesting on Facebook and one thing led to another. I take homicides and mass shootings personally, because as I said, I lost seven good friends plus the shooter-friend who obviously had "issues." I can count a total of at least 12 people who were friends or neighbors who were murdered. As I said, there wasn't a single murder in our county during the decade of the 1950s! I think you know what has changed: coddling of criminals, failing public schools that never flunk anyone anymore, and the decline in religion as a factor in the culture of society. This week I'm going to focus on mental health. That's one thing that can certainly be treated. Here's the piece I wrote this morning on my Facebook timeline:

Speaking of mental health, l just read a good article in Reader's Digest's large print edition, May 22, which l got free at the library the other day: "A baseball player's second chance." He was from Las Vegas and signed with the Texas Rangers in 2010 (his brother was drafted by the Brewers in 2006).

Drew Robinson made the majors in 2017 but was shuttled back to the minors a few times. In June he hit a homer for his first hit in the "bigs." He got traded to St. Louis, but had to have elbow surgery in 2019. The Giants then took a chance on him, but the virus shut down baseball in 2020. A week later he bought a gun and shot himself. He lived at home without medical care for about 20 hours. He thought about trying again, to shoot himself, but after taking a Tylenol he took that as a sign that he wanted to live. With much medical care, of course.

"He could be loud, bombastic, always trying to look and act cool. But neither Daiana nor the world could see Drew how he saw himself – not as the jokester but as the joke."

The 9mm bullet had taken out his right eye and exited his left cheek, just missing his other eye. He thought about trying again, but after taking a Tylenol, he took it as a sign that he wanted to live, and he called 9-1-1.

"Hitting major league pitches with two working eyes is extraordinarily difficult. Doing so with one is next to impossible . . "

But he began to work out again, and on October 21, 2020, 6 months after his "suicide," he hit a ball over the fence at the Las Vegas park local pros use for batting practice in the off-season. He had spoken to the Giants staff and players in September about mental illness. On the day after he had hit that ball out of the park, he got a text from manager Gabe Kapler and was given an invitation to go to minor league spring training.

He actually played half a season for the Sacramento River Cats before retiring. I had heard of Gabe Kapler before, but not the River Cats or Drew Robinson – and I used be into baseball. I hope the story gets wider exposure because Drew wants to help other people.

I know a guy who had problems with such issues and who was helped by the story of Boston's Jim Piersall in the 1950s. "Fear Strikes Out" was a book that was made into a movie (well worth reading or watching again!). Drew Robinson ended up working for the Giants' front office as a mental health advocate. He still has the bullet that "changed his life." Sometimes he'll take it out of the box and say:

"I'm stronger than you. I'm stronger than l thought l was."

P.S. Kudos to the Reader's Digest for this story by Jeff Passan (from ESPN). Picking it up when l did was propitious.

© Curtis Dahlgren

 

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)

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