Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

Rich Dauer and a Close Call for a Hometown Hero

December 26th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, The Sun

Rich Dauer has made plenty of news during his lifetime in baseball.

He was part of NCAA national championship teams at USC in the 1970s and the second baseman for the 1983 World Series-champion Baltimore Orioles.

On a local-local, hometown level the Colton native was the oh-so-cool young (35) field manager of the attendance-record-smashing 1987 San Bernardino Spirit, an independent team in the Single-A California League that built its advertising campaign on the former big-leaguer.

By 1990, he was back in the major leagues as a coach in Cleveland, and he did 18 seasons on the baselines for five teams, including the 2017 Houston Astros — who will be giving him a ring for his work with the new World Series champions.

Lots of stuff. Lots of notable moments.

But none compare to his near-miraculous recovery from a brain injury that came close to killing him on the day of the Astros’ victory parade, November 3.

According to a lengthy story in The Athletic, Dauer suffered a fall the night before the parade, with his head hitting the floor, but he noted no ill-effects.

The next day, after the parade through town, Dauer was on the dais with various politicians and Astros officials, when he said he did not feel well and others noticed he was behaving erratically. Soon, he was caught up in a full-blown medical emergency caused by a subdural hematoma — bleeding on the brain.

The crush of the celebratory crowd, estimated at 1 million, made it difficult for the Astros to get Dauer to a hospital, and by the time he was there a neurosurgeon surveyed the damage, which was significant, and Dauer went directly to the operating theater.

At one point, his wife said she was told he had a “3 percent chance” of survival, and even then the chances were strong that he would have brain damage. The Astros team physician told The Athletic: “The magnitude of what he had wrong was intimidating, astonishing.”

Dauer’s collapse and medical emergency might have taken a bit of the gloss off the Astros’ first championship, but that did not last long.

Not long after the surgery, to drain the blood pressing on his brain and get the bleeding to stop, Dauer came around and seemed as normal as a guy could be, for someone who had been on death’s door — a joyful surprise to everyone who knew how dire his situation had been.

Dauer told The Athletic: “I never repeated my name and the date so many times in my life. Every question was, ‘What’s your name? Where are you? Who is the president?’ I knew all that. There was never any time when I was out of it, never any time I couldn’t function. If it was up to me, I would have left [the hospital] as soon as I opened my eyes.”

Dauer is now back in his home in Atlanta, working out, beginning the retirement he had planned even before the surgery.

Those who remember Dauer when he was a kid in Colton and the manager of the San Bernardino Spirit will be glad to know the smiling, upbeat guy they knew is still with us.

“I was very nervous, very emotional,” he told Jim Long of the San Bernardino Suns after his first game with the Spirit, a 5-2 victory before an overflow crowd of 3,000 at San Bernardino’s Fiscalini Field, back in April of 1987.

And even then, players were talking up what it was like to have Dauer as a boss. “He’s the kind of guy you like to play for,” shortstop Leon Baham said. “He takes the fear out of you. You can make a mistake and he’ll be the same manager when you come back to the dugout.”

Take care, Rich Dauer.



0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment