A Line Drive to the Head Almost Costs a Teenager His Life

May 26, 2016

Tinley Park high school pitcher Tyler Coleman, 15,  took to the mound against his school’s rival Lockport High School. It was in the fourth inning when Tyler threw a fastball to the batter. After that, all he remembers is seeing the seams of the baseball. 

“He didn’t know what hit him,” said Ken Coleman, Tyler’s dad, who rushed to the mound to help his son. “He was covering his eye and walking around in a daze. We called the ambulance, and he was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet. Because of the severity of his injuries, they transported him to Lurie Children’s.” 

By the time he arrived at Lurie Children’s Emergency Department, the pressure in his brain was rapidly escalating, and he was immediately brought into surgery. “The ball hit him right on his frontal lobe,” said Tadanori Tomita, MD, head of the Division of Neurosurgery and one of the top neurosurgeons in the country. “He sustained a large epidural hematoma, severe bruising of the brain, frontal sinus and facial fractures.” 

Although the injury was in a critical location, Dr. Tomita was able to access Tyler’s brain through a minimally invasive procedure that involved an incision along his eyebrow, avoiding a full craniotomy of the skull. 

“Because of the severity of the injury, we were told that if we hadn’t gotten him into surgery that night, we could have lost our son,” said Keri Coleman, Tyler’s mom. “Dr. Tomita and the staff at Lurie Children’s saved our son’s life.” 

A week after the traumatic brain injury, Tyler – who plays for Victor J. Andrew High School - has made an amazing recovery. He was discharged from Lurie Children’s but not before receiving a surprise call from Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, who reached out to the 6’1 left-handed pitcher when he heard about the accident. 

“When people told me I was too tall to be a pitcher, I’d say, 'Yeah, well look at Chris Sale. He’s tall and left-handed like me.' So when he called me at the hospital, I couldn’t believe it. He told me to stay strong, sent me a White Sox bag filled with autographed souvenirs and invited me to a game. Who would ever have thought I’d get to meet Chris Sale at the Cell. It’s awesome. But for now, I just want to get back to my team and pitch again,” said Tyler.