06/03/2009 1:29 PM ET
Hill: Comeback from accident complete
Table saw severly injured hand of Cubs catcher
A lot of people think it's a miracle I'm still playing baseball at this level, but I see it as a journey of perseverance and character.
In October of 2007, I had an accident with a table saw. That was just another morning, like any other. As the son of a master carpenter, I had done the same thing a million times before. It was a freak accident. Unfortunately, I sustained an injury that a Major League catcher can't really afford to sustain. I had three fingers and my thumb cut off and then sewn back on. The bones were replaced, the muscles put back together and tendons sewn together.
After it happened, I did think I would be playing ball sometime again. At that point, I had spent parts of the previous six seasons in the big leagues, every year since '03. I figured I would play again at some point, but the level of play here in the Major Leagues is elite, and I never take for granted how lucky I am to be here.
So it was very special for me when I was able to complete the journey and make it all the way back to the big leagues.
Generally, I don't really care to talk about what happened that day or how it happened, but I do share the story when asked, especially when teammates ask me. I see it as an example of perseverance and character, and I take a lot of pride in it.
My dad was a professional cowboy. He was also a bull rider and a carpenter. We were a family that had to make do with what we had. I don't think that we necessarily had it tougher than anyone else, but I think our lifestyle gave us great character. We had to get up and grind every day.
Growing up in that atmosphere instills a sense of determination, perseverance and character. When I was competing at wrestling, I knew I wasn't the strongest guy, but I knew I was going to be tougher and meaner than the guy I was facing. On the baseball field, I was going to come better prepared and in better shape, and I was going to out-work everyone else.
So, when the accident happened, I knew I was going to be able to come back from the injury if I just dug deep.
The injury has really made me cognizant of what I'm doing now. In Spring Training last year, I couldn't even put my hands in my pocket to get my keys out. I couldn't take my catcher's mask off because my hand was so weak. The first couple months of the season, I just wasn't there. I had no bat control.
There was just a bunch of things that I had to relearn to do. I had to go back to square one. Now, not only do I understand where I'm at mechanically, but the process of relearning skills has made me a more consistent player and more aware of what I'm doing. I'm better prepared now. My routines are better now because they had to be.
I had to learn how to do that on a day-to-day basis. So I feel like I'm a better player because of it. I feel that, if I hadn't have that hand injury, I wouldn't be the player I am today.
Koyie Hill, a 30-year-old Oklahoman, is batting .287 with two homers and seven RBIs as the Cubs backup catcher this season, less than two years after severing his thumb and lacerating another three fingers on his right hand in a career-threatening table-saw accident.