Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

After near-death experience, 1st pitch in Houston

Former first-base coach Dauer returns for ceremonies
MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- Rich Dauer doesn't remember a lot of what happened to him before and during the subdural hematoma that nearly ended his life shortly after the Astros won the World Series last year, but in the months since then, he hasn't missed a single minute of joy stemming from the second chance he's been given.

Dauer, the Astros' now-retired first-base coach, had about a 3-percent chance of survival when he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital just as the team's pep rally at City Hall was wrapping up last November.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Rich Dauer doesn't remember a lot of what happened to him before and during the subdural hematoma that nearly ended his life shortly after the Astros won the World Series last year, but in the months since then, he hasn't missed a single minute of joy stemming from the second chance he's been given.

Dauer, the Astros' now-retired first-base coach, had about a 3-percent chance of survival when he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital just as the team's pep rally at City Hall was wrapping up last November.

View Full Game Coverage

Dauer has spent the past five months celebrating his life, his unlikely survival and, perhaps on a slightly lesser scale, the Astros' World Series championship.

On Monday, the Astros celebrated Dauer, handing him the ball to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Minute Maid Park.

Practically from the minute he walked into the ballpark, Dauer could not hide his emotions. The tears flowed freely before he could even begin his first answer during a brief meeting with reporters before the pregame ceremony began.

"I get a little emotional," Dauer managed.

Then, tears.

"I wasn't going to do this," he said, trying to gather himself.

Video: HOU@BAL: Dauer on World Series, returning to Houston

The more Dauer hears about what happened during his ordeal, he marvels at the role the Astros' medical staff played in his survival. Dauer doesn't remember much from that day, though he does have video from his cell phone from the parade that shows fans in the streets and parking lots. The video suddenly drops to a shot of his shoes, and that's when Dauer suspects his condition was just about to reach its frightening peak, when he was carted off the stage and rushed to the hospital.

His wife, Chris, was told to call the family and prepare herself for the inevitable. Recovering didn't seem to be an option. Until, miraculously, it was.

Given what Dauer went through, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game may seem like something small, but it was anything but. That he was able to do so in front of a medical team that saved his life, and throw the pitch to manager AJ Hinch, just added to the emotion of the day.

"It means a lot to be able to do this," Dauer said. "It's not just for me."

Dauer was in tears as he walked to the mound, as he threw the pitch to Hinch, and as he walked off the mound, arm in arm with his former manager.

"I have never seen him that emotional," Hinch said. "This guy is as charismatic and joking and laughing, never-had-a-bad-day-type coach, since the day I was with him with the Royals. To see him emotional as he was walking out on the field … the World Series mattered to him. Living mattered more."

Dauer's reaction to the scene probably had something to do with most of the Astros players pouring onto the field to hug their former coach.

"That wasn't planned," Hinch said. "I didn't ask them to do that. They did that on their own, and to see a man who's given his life to baseball and walk out on the field -- probably throw out the first pitch for the first time in his life -- as emotional as he was, I'll remember that forever."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Houston Astros