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Ben Carlson: The Game Changer

A prospect in the Cleveland Indians farm system, things were going well for Ben Carlson until one fouled off pitch change the course of his baseball career and his life Read Transcript


ALL I KNEW THAT I DID WAS

HURT SOMEBODY.

AND I IMMEDIATELY JUST

STARTED CRYING IN THE BOX.

I SAW A LIMP KID OVER HIS

PARENTS' SHOULDER.

AT THAT MOMENT WHEN I HIT

THAT BASEBALL, EVERYTHING

CHANGED.

Reporter: BEN CARLSON

LOVED BASEBALL.

HIS POWERFUL SWING HAD MAJOR

LEAGUE POTENTIAL.

HE BECAME AN ALL-AMERICAN AT

MISSOURI STATE.

THIS FIRST-BASE MAN WAS

DRAFTED BY THE CLEVELAND

INDIANS, AND ASSIGNED TO

THEIR FARM TEAM.

HE WAS GROOMED TO BE A PART

OF THE FRANCHISE'S FUTURE.

BEN BELIEVED NOTHING COULD

STOP HIM.

YOU BASICALLY FELT

INVINCIBLE.

YOU COULD SEE THE BIG

LEAGUES AHEAD OF YOU.

EVERYBODY TELLING YOU HOW

GREAT A BASEBALL PLAYER YOU

ARE.

AND YOU'VE GOT A BASEBALL

CARD THAT COMES OUT WITH

YOUR PICTURE ON IT.

YOU FEEL PRETTY SPECIAL

ABOUT YOURSELF.

YOU FEEL LIKE YOU REALLY

ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING IN

LIFE.

BASICALLY LIVING THE DREAM.

Reporter: BUT JUST

THREE MONTHS INTO HIS

PROFESSIONAL CAREER, THE

DREAM SUDDENLY CAME TO AN

END.

IT WAS A NIGHT GAME IN

SEPTEMBER OF 2009.

CHAD AND NICOLE HOCKO SAT

WITH THEIR 4-YEAR-OLD BOY,

LUKE, IN THE FRONT ROW, WHEN

BEN CAME TO BAT.

I GOT TO THE BATTER'S

BOX, I'M ALWAYS THINKING,

I'M GOING TO HIT A HOMERUN

EVERY TIME I GET UP TO THE

PLATE.

THE NEXT THING I KNEW, THE

PITCHER THROWS A CURVEBALL.

I WAS A LEFTHANDER, AND SO I

WAS OUT IN FRONT OF IT AND I

HIT A FOUL BALL INTO THE

STANDS.

THAT'S WHEN THE BALL HIT

LUKE IN THE HEAD.

CHAD STARTED REACTING,

AND I GUESS I REALLY DIDN'T

QUITE NO WHAT HAD HAPPENED.

A COUPLE OF SECONDS LATER IT

DAWNED ON ME HE HAD GOTTEN

HIT BY THE BASEBALL.

AT THAT POINT, IT WAS JUST

PANIC, TRYING TO FIGURE

OUT -- YOU COULDN'T SEE

ANYTHING WRONG, OTHER THAN

HE WASN'T RESPONDING.

P.

I SEE HIS PARENTS PICK

HIM UP AND IMMEDIATELY RUN

UP THE STAIRS OF THE STADIUM

AND RUN OUT OF THE

BALLPARK.

AND I'VE NEVER HEARD A

STADIUM SO QUIET.

Reporter: BEN MANAGED

TO FINISH HIS AT-BAT.

HE STRUGGLED THROUGH THE

REST OF THE GAME AS HOSPITAL

UPDATES ABOUT LUKE'S

CONDITION WERE PASSED ON TO

THE DUGOUT.

AFTER THE GAME, BEN LEARNED

LUKE MIGHT NOT LIVE THROUGH

THE NIGHT.

I JUST REMEMBER PRAYING,

JUST LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE,

WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO

THEM, THAT'S WHEN THEY COME

TO GOD.

I SAID, LORD, JUST SAVE HIS

LIFE.

HE WAS UNCONSCIOUS WHEN

WE WERE IN THE E.R.

THE DOCTORS COME UP AND SAID

HE WAS IN EMERGENCY

SURGERY.

AND THINGS JUST WENT FROM

BAD TO WORSE.

YOU'RE WONDERING, WOW, HOW

COULD THIS BE?

IT WAS JUST A BASEBALL.

Reporter: LUKE'S VITAL

SIGNS FINALLY STABILIZED,

BUT HE REMAINED IN A COMA.

BEN SAYS HE WAS OVERCOME

WITH GUILT AND WENT TO CHECK

ON LUKE AND HIS FAMILY IN

THE HOSPITAL.

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME WE

MET HIM FACE TO FACE.

HE COME DOWN THE HALLWAY,

AND YOU COULD TELL HE WAS A

BASEBALL PLAYER.

HE COME AND GIVE US A BIG

HUG AND HE WAS IN TEARS AND

WE WERE IN TEARS.

THEY ACCEPTED ME INTO

THEIR FAMILY.

AND THAT WAS AMAZING.

BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE MIGHT

BLAME ME, AND MOST PEOPLE

MIGHT -- YOU KNOW, THEY

MIGHT JUST REJECT ME.

Reporter: LUKE'S

PARENTS DIDN'T BLAME BEN.

INSTEAD OF, THEY FORGAVE

HIM.

LUKE'S CONDITION IMPROVED,

AND HE WAS RELEASED FROM THE

HOSPITAL.

BEN CONTINUED TO PONDER WHAT

HAPPENED, FORCING HIM TO

EVALUATE HIS LIFE.

EVERY SINGLE DAY YOU'RE

EXPECTED TO PRODUCE.

YOU'RE EXPECTED TO SHOW YOUR

TALENTS, TO SHOW THAT THEIR

INVESTMENT IS PAYING OFF FOR

THEM.

WHEN YOU'RE DRIVEN LIKE THAT

AND THINGS AREN'T GOING SO

WELL, YOU START LOOKING AT

WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON.

I JUST HAD TO BE HONEST WITH

MYSELF.

AND THAT BROKE ME EVEN MORE,

BUT THAT GAVE ME FREEDOM.

BECAUSE I REALIZED THAT

EVERYTHING I WAS DOING

DIDN'T MATTER.

YOU REALIZE THAT YOU NEED

GOD.

YOU REALIZE THAT YOU NEED

SOMEBODY BIGGER AND BETTER

THAN YOURSELF TO LIVE

THROUGH AND YOU TO HELP YOU

WITH THINGS IN YOUR LIFE.

Reporter: THE INDIANS

PROMOTED HIM, AND HIS

HITTING SLUMP CONTINUED.

ONE DAY BEN SHOWED UP EARLY

FOR HIS PRE-GAME ROUTINE.

I REMEMBER GOING OUTSIDE

FOR SOME REASON, AND I SAT

OUTSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM, AND

I JUST STARTED BALLING.

AND I JUST SAID, JESUS, SAVE

MY LIFE, BECAUSE I DIDN'T

KNOW WHERE ELSE TO TURN.

AND HE WAS THE ONLY ONE I

COULD CALL ON.

SO HE WAS THE ONLY TRUTH

THAT I KNEW TO CALL OUT TO.

THAT DAY WAS LIFE CHANGING.

I TRULY, TRULY BELIEVE THAT

THAT WAS THE DAY THAT GOD

GOT AHOLD OF MY HEART.

Reporter: BEN'S

CONTRACT WASN'T RENEWED FROM

THE 2010 SEASON, AND HE

WALKED AWAY FROM THE GAME HE

LOVED.

HE MARRIED AND RECENTLY

BECAME A DAD.

BEN HAS RETURNED TO SCHOOL

TO FINISH HIS DEGREE AT

VICTORIA STATE, WHERE HE

ALSO PLAYS FOOTBALL.

WHILE LITTLE LUKE CONTINUES

HIS RECOVERY, HE AND BEN

CONTINUE THEIR FRIENDSHIP.

ALONG THE WAY, BEN HAS FOUND

ANOTHER FRIEND WHO HAS

CHANGED HIS LIFE.

YOU DO GET TO THAT POINT

WHERE YOU NEED HIM MORE THAN

ANYTHING.

BUT WHEN YOU TRULY

EXPERIENCE HIM FOR YOURSELF,

AND IN THOSE MOMENTS OF

DESPERATION, WHERE YOU NEED

A SAVIOR, THROUGH THE LAST

YEAR AND A HALF THAT I'VE

BEEN FOLLOWING, IT HAS BEEN

THE MOST AMAZING JOURNEY I

HAVE TAKEN IN MY ENTIRE

LIFE.

I WOULD GIVE UP EVERYTHING

OF MY PAST LIFE TO CONTINUE

TO FOLLOW HIM.

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