Over the course of his 14 years in baseball, Bob Ojeda threw more than 1,000 strikeouts and countless pitches across the plate.
The lefty, who spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets, retired in 1994 after winning a World Series in 1986 and leading the American League in shutouts in 1984.
During that entire time, his left pitching arm hurt.
“For more than three decades, whether in Little League or the minor leagues or Fenway Park in Boston, there was pain,” he wrote in a recent New York Times article. “Sharp or dull, in the elbow or at the shoulder. Throwing fastballs as a kid or junk as a lefty trying to stay in the big leagues, it all led to pain. It would be dulled by aspirin or beer or more powerful cocktails of medicine and booze. But it would never leave.”
The pain Ojeda experienced is typical for a pitcher in the major leagues, he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.
Ojeda says the amount of pain he experienced depended on what type of pitch he was throwing. A change-up — which required little energy — wasn’t so bad. But sliders and curve balls would wreak havoc on his elbows, and fastballs really hurt his entire arm.
“Fastballs required the most energy,” he says. “That was the one that if I misfired at all … that put the maximum ‘wow’ factor in the ow.”
Listen to the full interview – Bob Ojeda: Pitching Through The Pain