Rocco Baldelli has dealt with a rare illness that has forced him to retire from the game of baseball at the age of just 29. We’ve followed this story through the years and always taken particular interest in it.
It seemed that Baldelli was on a meteoric rise to fame back in 2003 when he burst on teh scene and collected 40 hits in his first month in the big leagues. He was a hitting machine. I learned this as he became a late-season pick up for me in fantasy baseball that year. The guy seemed to get 3 ro 4 hits a night for a pretty good clip towards the end of that season. He was automatic.
Then the illness struck. A weird mitochondrial disorder that sounds like it’s got part of chronic fatigue, lyme disease, and parts of ALS mixed in it.
You look back on a talent like Rocco Baldelli and it’s really easy to wonder what might have been. You can only imagine how he feels. At the same time, Baldelli says that he’s ‘happy to retire’. When wondering how he might feel this way–while he’s faced with this illness he at least has his earned salary from his time in the big leagues to help him on his ways. If he were a normal person and not a pro athlete he would be a lot worse off.
He also showed many times in his career the ability to come back from adversity, launching comebacks like in the 2008 playoffs with the Boston Red Sox and a comeback this past season that saw him homer in his first at bat back from the minor leagues in his second stint with Tampa Bay.
Diamond Hoggers wishes Rocco Baldelli all the luck in the world in his future endeavors and we admire him for bravely playing the hand he was dealt with such a good attitude.