A big summer together on the baseball field was ahead for Chuck and Will Youngman when they went to a Memorial Day weekend picnic at a family friend’s house.
As he went to make a catch in a friendly game of Ultimate Frisbee, 12-year-old Will did not realize he was running off the end of a retaining wall. By the time Chuck could get to his son, who had fallen into a picnic area about eight feet below, Will, with gravel embedded in his side, was gasping for air.
Because the other players had not been told yet, Chuck had not even shared the news from a meeting he had attended an hour earlier. Will was officially on the roster of the Back Mountain National Major Little League Baseball all-star team that was weeks away from starting the District 31 tournament schedule. Chuck, an assistant coach a year ago, would be manager and Will would be one of two players still young enough to return from last year’s state finalist team.
The four broken ribs and collapsed lung Will suffered on impact changed priorities and seemed to alter plans for the weeks ahead.
Jason and Julie Killian, two trauma nurses in attendance at the party, helped stabilize Will during the wait for the first of his two ambulance rides that night.
In Will’s hospital room at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where he was transferred the night of the fall, Chuck and Caroline Youngman simply wanted their son to improve. While Will spent a week in the hospital with a chest tube – which was inserted in the middle of the night hours after his fall – in place to reinflate his lung, they reminded him there would be plenty of baseball in the years ahead.
Will had other plans.
In the time between his discharge from the hospital and the start of district tournament play, doctors agreed. The lung was sufficiently healed and fully functioning.
Will could return to the baseball field – provided he could cope with the pain that goes with the healing process from multiple broken ribs.
Father and son were able to take their places together, each filling prominent roles on a team that won its five-team pool and five straight games before losing 7-5 to West Pittston in the July 11 locally televised district title game.
“I think this is a class act they put on,” Chuck Youngman said of the district tournament. “With the kids being on TV; they treat the kids special.
“I was just blessed with the opportunity to coach them.”
And, relieved to be coaching all of them.
In Will’s first game back on the field, he finished off a combined no-hitter with Ty Federici to open the District 31 tournament. In the championship game, he hit two home runs.
Will batted well over .400 for the six-game tournament with seven hits, including six for extra bases. He allowed just one hit and struck out 12 while pitching seven innings in relief.
And, the athletic performance served to show he was OK just six weeks removed from a scary incident.
Will and Chuck will be together on the field again as player and manager beginning in August when the Northeast Riverdawgs club team open its U-12 tournament schedule. For now, it is time for Will to rest from the game and take it easy for a while.
“He breaks his ribs, he’s out 4 1/2 weeks, then he comes back for a week and a half or two weeks of all-stars, it was rush, rush, rush,” said Chuck, explaining that the bat and glove were put away for a week or more after the Little League all-star season ended for BMN with Monday’s loss. “We’re just trying to be a little cautious here.”
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