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Matt Imhof: Baseball Prospect Retires After Losing Eye

Image: Matt Imhof: Baseball Prospect Retires After Losing Eye

Matt Imhof (48) of the Threshers during the Florida State League game between the Daytona Tortugas and the Clearwater Threshers at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

By    |   Thursday, 26 Jan 2017 12:33 PM

Matt Imhof, a 23-year-old baseball prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies, announced his retirement in a moving article on ESPN after he lost his eye in a freak accident.

Imhof, a 2014 second-round draft pick of the Phillies who played for the Clearwater Threshers in the advanced Single-A Florida State League last season, suffered the accident while working out in June. A metal hook broke from a wall while Imhof was stretching exercise bands, slamming against his face, according to the ESPN article.

He also broke his nose in the accident, but surgeries to safe his right eye failed. Imhof wrote that the accident forced him to come to the reality that everything he had worked for in his life has changed.

"You tell yourself to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but when (doctors) told me that, the last little bit of hope I had was gone," Imhof said about hearing the news that he would likely lose his eye. "The doctors left my room so I could compose myself and make a decision, but I broke down and cried until I was out of tears."

Imhof, who played his college baseball at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, credited Dr. Wendy Lee, who performed his second eye surgery, for "setting me straight." He said Lee talked to him for a week about all the things he could still do and all his possibilities until her message finally clicked.

"I had two options," Imhoff wrote for ESPN. "I could let this injury define me. I could be angry – no one would blame me for that. I could be depressed, feel sorry for myself and live in the past. I could let the rest of my life be defined by the worst day of my life. Or, I could pick myself up, dust myself off and move on.

"I'm a firm believer that baseball, through all my struggles on and off the field, prepared me for this moment. But the greatest thing baseball ever did for me was teach me who I could be without it."

Imhof said he announced his retirement not because of the injury but for a "change of pace." He said he was ready to move on "to bigger and better things."

The Philly Voice reported that Imhof's story touched many Philadelphia baseball fans when he posted about his injury and recovery on Instagram. That posting received more than 3,000 likes and 600 comments.


As many of you know on Friday June 25th I had an accident. A large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. I was immediately taken to the ER and then transferred to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the #1 eye hospital in the world. That night, the doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape. The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible to reconstruct it but in all likelihood I would never regain sight in my right eye. The first surgery was somewhat a success but overall nothing had changed, so after discussions with my family and my doctors, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in. This decision was not an easy one to make but to me it seemed like the right one so on Tuesday afternoon I went forward with the surgery. I'm currently still in Miami recovering from surgery but I'm doing well. This has been the hardest week of my life but I've had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it. For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well. Although this injury has been tough it could have been much worse...I'm lucky to still have vision in my left eye...I'm lucky that i didn't have brain damage...and I'm lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world. I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I'm not dead. I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna persevere, and I'm gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support.

A photo posted by Matt Imhof (@matt_imhof48) on

Those feelings continued on Twitter as well.

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Matt Imhof, a 23-year-old baseball prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies, announced his retirement in a moving article on ESPN after he lost his eye in a freak accident.
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Thursday, 26 Jan 2017 12:33 PM
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