Courtesy: Jeff Praught
Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Michael Petracca spent the first part of Saturday in the middle of a comeback.
Making a double play in the first inning of his first softball game after a brief hiatus from the sport, the San Diego man set the tone for his team’s first of two victories during last weekend’s Sin City Shootout, a Las Vegas tournament for LGBT leagues from across the country. Off to a great start, Petracca’s team had high hopes of beating out hundreds of competitors and winning the entire tournament.
Then tragedy struck. Petracca, 28, was walking between softball fields with a few teammates when an aluminum bat flew out of a hitter’s hands, soared 40 feet over a fence and struck him in the left temple. He fell to the ground, hitting his head on the asphalt and fracturing his skull.
Petracca was rushed to University Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery to relieve swelling in his brain. Because of damage to the part of the brain that controls speech, Petracca woke up unable to speak coherently and partially paralyzed in the face.
In just two days, members of the softball and LGBT communities and others have donated more than $40,000 to a GoFundMe page for Petracca.
Coach Brian Burnett got the idea to create the fundraising page when it became apparent Petracca’s insurance would cover only part of his medical costs. So far, the page has been shared around 2,000 times on social media and 600 people have donated.
“Words fail me,” Burnett said. “Every time I think I have seen it all, more keeps coming and I don’t know what else to say besides thank you.”
For those who know and love Petracca, it comes as no surprise that his story has resonated with so many people.
“He’s probably the most loveable person you could ever meet,” said Michael Petracca Sr., his father. “He has a heart of gold and he just wants to make other people happy.”
Since the accident, Petracca has made steady progress toward another comeback. During his first day of therapy after surgery he was able to speak his first word: Mom.
“He’s a fighter,” said Petracca Sr. “He has a long road ahead of him, but with the support of everyone who has reached out and been involved in this in any way whatsoever, he’s going to keep fighting as hard as he can.”
Donations can be made to Petracca’s GoFundMe page.