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Frazier O'Leary ('63) Featured In Washington Post

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: May 19, 2010
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May 19, 2010

A catcher's mask possibly kept longtime Cardozo baseball coach Frazier O'Leary from becoming former Cardozo baseball coach Frazier O'Leary.

Last Friday, the Clerks were practicing at Nationals Park, part of a deal between the team and D.C. Public Schools in which each D.C. high school baseball team gets one day each season to hold practice on the major-league field.

O'Leary was throwing batting practice, standing behind an L-fence no more than 40 feet from home plate. Even though the fence is supposed to protect the pitcher from line drives, batted balls can still come hit the exposed area, from where the pitcher throws, which is why O'Leary never throws without wearing a catcher's mask.

Sure enough, one line drive came at him, hitting him squarely between the eyes on his mask.

"I saw it, but I didn't feel it, that's how quickly it came at me," O'Leary said. "If I'd had on a batting helmet [instead of a catcher's mask] you'd probably be writing about my funeral."

O'Leary said it's common to hear of coaches shunning such protective equipment because "they're macho guys, like, 'Nothing can hurt me.' You can guarantee I won't be pitching without one of these ever again."

O'Leary said he immediately thought about St. Albans junior varsity coach Stephen Wheeler who was struck in the head by a thrown ball while coaching third base during a game in 2008, and needed emergency surgery for a cracked skull and hematoma. Wheeler recovered and is still coaching at St. Albans.

"I'm just glad I lived to tell about this," O'Leary said. "Please, if you're going to throw [batting practice], protect yourself."

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