July 24th, 2009
Thinking that Jeff Williams being picked up by the Yankees was a ‘feel good’ story, maybe this one outshines it a bit. The Traverse City Beach Bums just signed infielder and former Florida Gater Brandon McArthur to patrol third base at Wuerful Park.
What’s amazing, is the path and adversity that McArthur has gone through to get to this point. His biggest hurdle was battling back from a severe head injury after a random act of violence in October of 2003 that put him in a drug induced coma at Tampa General Hospital. He was attacked outside a Gainsville night club and hit his head on the sidewalk. The doctors were’nt sure he’d even survive after having to remove 5% of his brain during two life-saving operations. When he was finally awake in November and went to use the restroom, he immediatly hit the floor, forgetting how to walk. He also permanatley lost his sence of taste and smell, as well as the names of all of his teammates. The doctors informed him he’s never play baseball again, and told his family that he would be paralyzed and unable to communicate.
Over the next year or so, McArthur would prove the doctors wrong. After regaining his ability to walk and talk, he next turned his attention to baseball-hitting off a tee, then slowly throwing, and taking batting practice.
On February 11, 2005, McArthur took the field at McKethan Stadium-as the Florida Gators starting third baseman. He and the Gators would go on to the best season in school history. They won the SEC Championship and even made it to the finals of the College World Series, eventually losing to Texas.
Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. In his sophomore campain, McArthur would miss ten games with a deep bone bruise and reoccuring shin problems. He still went on to hit four doubles, two triples, two home runs, and drive in 20 runs. In 2007, his season would begin and end in the first game of the season. McArthur tore his ulnar collateral ligament during a routine throw to first base and had to suffer through a whole year of rehab. He would come back as a starter in 2008, though, only to rupture his anterior cruciate ligament. Playing injured, he still batted .367 with 20 RBI’s.
McArthur was granted a sixth year of eligability by the NCAA, and in 2009 he posted a career-best .338 average with 14 doubles, three home runs, and 20 walks. He was a .301 career batter with the Gators, with 36 doubles, eight triples and ten homers. He also earned the Academic All-SEC award and SEC-All Freshman Team honors.
Off the field, McArthur was even more valuable to his school and community. Here’s a small list of his activities: Florida Student Athlete Advisory Counsil, speaker for Fellowship of Christain Athletes, frequent visitor to the pediatric unit at Shands Hospital (where he re-habed), wheel-chair basketball with Special Olympians, speaker at ‘Youth Quake’ Christian youth event, member of Big Brothers, and speaker at the March of Dimes Health Conference in 2008 and participated in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp.
Wow. I got tired just reading and typing all of that. Truely, this is a special individual who would not accept defeat in the wake of tragedy. Now he’s a professional baseball player. If the Beach Bums criteria of signing players is high character, then I think they just out did themselves. McArthur was a 2003 draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, so maybe he can work his way back up to that level.
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums