High School Baseball Coach Sued By Former Player For Telling Him To Slide Into Third Base
I try not to exacerbate the whole ‘snowflake millennial’ phenomenon because Boomers weren’t perfect. It’s confounding how easily a Bob or a Gary can tell the youths how to live their lives when they tried to convince us the Beach Boys were cool and are single-handedly keeping The Cracker Barrel’s swinging doors open.
But, in this particular case, I stand with The Boomers and their luke warm Miller High Lifes.
A New Jersey high school baseball player sued his coach because he permanently injured his ankle sliding into third base. Jake Mesar, now 22, was seeking a seven-figure payout from coach John Suk for negligence for ordering him to slide during a Bound Brook High School baseball game in 2012.
According to the NJ.com, Mesar was a freshman playing in his first junior varsity game when Suk signaled him to slide into third. Seems like, um, his job? Well, Mesar claims that Suk was late with the signal and he hit the deck too close to the bag, drilling his ankle and hearing a “pop” that would end his high school playing days after just two innings and require three surgeries.
At trial, Mesar seemed to think he was the next Babe Ruth: “I felt bad for my parents. They would never be able to see me play again.”
Suk, a 31-year-old middle school teacher, had to take two full days off of work to field questions from his former player’s lawyer as asinine as these:
Q. You gave him a signal to slide when he was approximately six feet from the base, correct?
Q. And by your past answer, I take it that it’s your position that being six feet from a base with a runner running full speed, that it’s a safe distance to begin a slide?
Q. What distance is not a safe distance for a runner to begin a slide?
A. Any distance inside two feet.
Q. There would be no reason for a third-base coach to signal a player to slide into third base if there was not a potential play at third base?
Q. Because sliding is dangerous?
A. Sliding is a potentially dangerous activity, yes, but with proper training and teaching and the plaintiff’s player experience, he could safely do so in an attempt to avoid injury.
Mesar’s lawyers argued that the injury, which caused post-traumatic arthritis and signs of necrosis (dying bone), contributed immensely to frequent bouts of depression and a pair of panic attacks Mesar would experience in the years following.
Suk underwent some hardships from the incident as well, mostly stemming from the fallout from getting sued.
“Was it hard to sleep some nights? Yeah,” Suk tells me. “It was hard knowing that I had to explain myself, over and over and over again. It took the fun out of the job because I kept on thinking, ‘He could be the next kid who comes up with a lawsuit.’ You know? The odds are slim but you don’t want to go through something like this again.”
In the end, jurors found John Suk not guilty of negligence and Mesar would not be rewarded the seven-figures he was seeking.
Juror Lauren Palladino said after the trial: “I don’t think the coach had any intention of hurting the kid when he told him to slide. It just … happened. How was the coach reckless? That’s how you play the game.”