Ex-Rocket in Sports Illustrated

While thumbing through last week’s Sports Illustrated – the one with Baltimore’s Matt Wieters on the cover – I stumbled across a story on the “History of the Hi-Five” in sports. Imagine my surprise to find former Auburn High star Chris Halliday’s story from last year’s Division 2 state title baseball game being told. I’m sure it’s not the way Halliday wanted to make his Sports Illustrated debut, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.

For those who don’t remember, Halliday was the pitcher who made the final out to give the Rockets the title. In the midst of the celebration, he broke his leg pretty badly. His tale was used in Chris Ballard’s story that sometimes Hi-Fives can go wrong. Here’s the entry:

Crash Landings

Celebrating is risky business. Cardinals placekicker Bill Gramatica tore his ACL in 2001 while jumping for joy after making a field goal, an accident that landed him on one list of Lamest Sports Injuries Ever. But that was a solo act. Chest bumps involve far more coordination. The run-up. The launch. The connection. And, of course, the landing.

The last part is where it all went wrong for Chris Halliday. Last June the senior at Auburn (Mass.) High was brought in to close out the state Division 2 championship game against Plymouth North. With the final pitch of the season, he induced a fly ball to center. Bedlam ensued. And then, well, here’s how Halliday remembers it:

“I throw my glove up in the air and I just fall on the ground and I’m doing like a snow angel. It felt awesome. I couldn’t believe that we won. After that I get up and I look toward the bench, and all the guys are running toward the field. The first guy I run toward is Kyle Beede, our backup catcher. So I go up for a chest bump, and I think we miss—my memory gets blurry about here—and when we landed, he landed on my leg. I’d never broken a leg before, but when I landed I felt something … bad. I was lying there and I said, ‘Man, I think I broke my leg,’ and he said, ‘Shut up. Let’s go.’ Then I looked at my left leg, and it was at a 90-degree angle. And he looked at it and ran away to get help. And the rest of the guys are coming at me, running at me to do a big pileup, and then they all saw my leg and they turned and ran the other way, like they’d seen a friggin’ ghost.”

Eventually Halliday was taken off the field on a stretcher, triumphantly holding the championship trophy aloft—a pose that was photographed and ran alongside a Boston Globe story. Within 24 hours doctors inserted a titanium rod and three screws in his leg. He spent weeks in bed, forbidden to walk. Only now, nine months later, can he run again, but memories of his accident haunt him. “I want to play basketball with my friends, but I can’t because I get so scared,” Halliday says. “Every time I see someone jump off the ground and land, I cringe.”

You can find the full story here:

Celebration History

It’s a good way to kick off this year’s high school baseball season – keep your head on a swivel out there folks.

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