Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baseball's Hidden Dangers

I'm always fearful when I'm on the ball field because of aluminum bats. The kids today are stronger, faster and highly skilled due to sport specialization. I've been hit less than a handful of times and missed by the narrowest of margins hundreds of times more than I can count.

Yet that fear has become secondary for me of late. Baseball's bats and ball are upon us and I can't really concentrate wholeheartedly on it. I was diagnosed as having cancerous skin on my face two weeks ago and have been taking some aggressive treatment.

It's scary. Right now I feel as if I look like The Elephant Man. I have some grotesque marks below my eyes from where sun damage has accumulated and the treatment makes it look as bad as it feels. Obviously I waited until after basketball season was over and started treatment before the warmer spring and summer months are upon us, but working games now, I'm looking, feeling and probably appearing equally uncomfortable.

The lesson I would impart onto every single person reading this is be prepared and be vigilant. Yes, I used sun screen, but I wasn't always using SPF 30 like I should, and I didn't always re-apply every two hours like I should have been. SPF 4 and SPF 8 don't cut it, and it needs to be applied every two hours. That means when watching, working or playing a doubleheader, after Game One is over, sun screen needs to be re-applied in full before Game Two.

When I was young, playing in the sun or at the lake was carefree. It was cocoa butter, baby oil and cold beers on the dock. I didn't think about long-term damage to fair-skin. The truth is the sun is dangerous. Salts disposed in sweat, natural skin oils and dust can all accelerate the skin burning process and there is a limited amount of times you can burn your skin before the damage becomes permanent. Thankfully, I'm expected to make a full recovery, but don't make my mistakes. Use sunscreens when you're at the ball field. Use SPF 30 at a minimum, and apply it every two hours.

Play ball!

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