I was looking up minor league stats today, and I did not realize that Mets prospect Brant Rustich retired, at age 27. Brant and I attended the same high school, and crossed paths a few times. He always seemed like a pretty good dude, and I was hoping he would crack the Mets roster at some point.
During my senior year, I played in a P.E. softball game with Brant. I was playing left field, he 3rd base. A pop-up was hit to left, I ran in, he ran back. His 6'6, 240lb frame of muscle collided with my 200lb of McDonald's and Twinkies, and the result was not pretty. He popped up like nothing, and I laid on the ground, looking for the Buick that just hit me. The crowd around us laughed in amusement, and I got up, trying to save face in front of all the babes. I couldn't walk right for a week.
Rustich went to UCLA, and was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft, by the Mets. He featured a min-90's fastball, and his overall makeup was supposed to give him a quick path to the big leagues.
Rustich though, had a series of injuries, and a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome ruined his career. In an interview with a Mets blog, Rustich described the injury as "my nerves and artery were compressed in my thoracic outlet, just before my shoulder."
The condition caused numbness in his fingers, and he even had a rib removed. Ultimately, the condition was too much, and he decided to call it quits, after not throwing a pitch in 2011.
He went to UCLA, and seemed like a smart dude, so I am sure he will be successful in a "normal life." But I cannot help but feel bad for the guy.
The guy worked his ass off for years, got just a few steps away from his dream, and could not fulfill his potential, due to some freak condition that was completely out of his control. It really goes to show how talented, and lucky you have to be to reach the big leagues. A tough break for a good dude.