Baseballer defies odds after losing 3 fingers in firework blast
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016
LAPLACE — Nikki Edmonds jokes that her 13-year-old son, Kade, has his own room at the local urgent care center.
“We walk in and they say, ‘Hey, Kade. Go on in your room,’” Nikki said.
It’s never anything too serious, Nikki added, just the normal bumps and bruises typical of a rambunctious boy.
That all changed on the first Tuesday of 2016.
On that day, Kade calmly walked into his house and yelled for his mom. Blood was dripping from his hand.
He had come home from school early for a baseball practice but the times got mixed up and it was canceled. While waiting for his friends to get off their school bus, Kade found an unexploded firework left over from New Year’s Eve celebrations. Thinking nothing of it, Kade lit it.
It exploded in his hand.
“I didn’t even have time to throw it,” he said. “Right when I touched it, it just went off.”
This wasn’t just a little firecracker.
Nikki heard the boom from inside and remembers wondering, “what’s that boy doing now?”
It took Kade several moments to realize something terrible had happened.
“I just remember seeing, like, a light and my ears popped,” he said. “I just looked at my hand and ran inside.”
The blast singed his hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. He suffered burns on his chest and neck. He couldn’t hear much for days.
The worst damage, however, was to his right hand — his pitching hand, his throwing hand.
His index and middle fingers were completely blown off, his ring finger was left dangling, his palm was ripped open and every bone in his hand was broken. He eventually lost the injured finger.
It was months before he was able to move his thumb and pinkie.
Quickly recognizing the severity of the injuries, the urgent care staff called for an ambulance to transport Kade to University Medical Center in New Orleans.
The vehicle hadn’t even left St. John the Baptist Parish before Kade asked the question on his mind:
“When am I going to be able to play baseball again?”
Baseball is Kade’s life. It has been since he began playing t-ball at age 4, said dad, Kevin.
A stellar middle infielder and catcher, Kade played local recreation ball and travel ball and had joined the Riverside Academy middle school team. He also played football and basketball on the middle school teams at Riverside Academy.
Kade was just working up to being a pitcher for the Louisiana Outlaws when his life changed in that instant.
Mike Murden was one of several local dads who coached Kade, who saw the requests for prayers on social media and who thought a promising career had just been ended.
“He was a real good player,” Murden said. “I just thought, ‘Oh my God. You’ve got to be kidding me. What a shame this had to happen to this kid.’”
Kade is no ordinary kid, though.
Within days he was thinking of his future as a baseball player and figuring out the adjustments he would have to make.
“I was thinking, how was I going to throw again?” Kade said.
Forced to use his non-dominant left hand for normal tasks now, he got his mom to help him throw tennis balls, using the wound up water hose as a target.
“We’d see who could make the most through the hole,” Nikki said. “He would throw farther and farther. We’d come up with creative things.”
Then he had to figure out how he could catch a ball with a glove then throw it.
“Somebody told me about a major leaguer who had one hand and he would switch when he threw it,” Kade said.
Former major league pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, would tuck the glove under his arm to throw.
“I just said, let me try it,” he said. “I kept doing it and doing it until I got the hang of it.”
His newfound skills have amazed many.
“It’s something to see, I’ll say that,” Murden said.
Riverside Academy head coach Frank Cazeaux said he too was stunned by Kade’s skills.
“When I saw him play after he got hurt, I was amazed at the things he was doing,” Cazeaux said. “He taught himself how to do that.”
By summer, Kade was playing on three different teams. By July he was healed enough, not only to make the trip with his team to the Cooperstown, N.Y., tournament, but pitched several innings.
He also created quite a stir there with his skills.
“Some kids would ask me what happened, how I got hurt,” he said.
Kevin said everyone has been overwhelmingly positive about his son’s future, but no one more than his son.
“He never really had a doubt that he was going to play baseball,” Kevin said. “It was never a question. He was still in intensive care and was saying he was still going to Cooperstown. He was just determined. He’s not a quitter.”
Kade still says he’s going to play college baseball (at LSU, he hopes) and will make it to the major leagues one day.
Anyone who knows him doesn’t doubt him.
“I tell you one thing I know about that kid,” Cazeaux said. “He has a gigantic heart and he loves to play the game. That’s the kind of guys I’m looking for. I’m glad he’s in our program.”