Mark Mulder was attempting to do the unthinkable. He was coming back to a rotation after being away for five full seasons. According to reports, the former A’s pitcher looked good, too. Then disaster struck. Mulder tore his Achilles tendon on the first day of spring training and effectively ended his career. It was a hard way to go down as he said on Twitter, “I can handle this. But seeing my son in tears…and telling him I was not going to pitch. That was tough.” With Mulder’s career ending injury, here is a look at four other players who have also had their careers shortened.
In 1964, at the age of 19, Tony Conigliaro was one of the most promising sluggers in baseball. With the Red Sox, he hit 24 homeruns his rookie season and the following year he hit a league leading 32. He had all of the makings of a future hall of fame player. Then on August 18th, he was hit just under the eye with a fastball. The injury caused him to miss the rest of the 1967 season and all of the following year. While Conigliaro did attempt a comeback, vision problems plagued him and he was eventually forced to retire.
Juan Encarnacion is was a career .270 hitter who played in 11 major league seasons. He was a run producing outfielder who often put up double digit homeruns and hit 156 long balls in his career. On August 31st, 2007 Encarnacion’s career ended in the on-deck circle as he was struck in the eye by a foul ball. Doctors stated that it was among the worst eye injuries that they had ever seen. Encarnacion not only had vision problems, but he never played another game again.
Throughout his twelve year career, Kirby Puckett did it all. He was a consistent all-star, led the league in hits three times, won Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, and was a perennial MVP candidate. The slugging outfielder was certainly among the league’s best. But, at age 35 vision problems cut his career short as he was diagnosed with glaucoma. This problem made it very difficult for him to see out of his right eye. Without the injury, Puckett undeniably would have produced 3,000 hits. Voters in Cooperstown saw enough of him during his career to welcome him into the Hall of Fame.
On July 5th, 2006 Corey Koskie was playing third base for the Milwaukee Brewers. As routinely slid for a foul ball, his career ended. Koskie suffered a concussion and was never able to step on the field again. After attempting a comeback he finally called it quits during spring training in 2009.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference
References: Tony C: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tony Conigliaro by David Cateneo