Brogan Walker attends Haughton High School. Like a true Buccaneer, he’s been known to wear an eye patch with a skull and swords.
On the pitcher’s mound.
He is no mascot, or a side show, but rather an inspirational story worthy of Hollywood.
A year and a couple of weeks ago, Walker was tossing batting practice at a local training facility when he was faced with the comebacker of all comebackers. The ball squared up his right eye and the aftermath included a loss of vision and multiple surgeries on the eye.
One month ago, Walker was legally blind in the eye with 20/400 vision. That didn’t quell the sophomore’s desire to play varsity baseball. Armed with the bravado of a (healthy) veteran and the ability to throw strikes with three different pitches, Walker bullied his way onto the varsity squad nearly one year to the day after the accident.
All Walker did in his first varsity appearance was earn Haughton head coach Glenn Maynor’s 600th career win without throwing a pitch. The next night, Walker earned a save. Thursday, he allowed one unearned run in four innings against Airline and collected another victory.
A 2-0 record with a save seemed unimaginable a year ago.
“I was told by a bunch of doctors my baseball career was over,” Walker explained to The Journal. “I just never stopped. It feels amazing to be where I’m at right now.”
After the accident, Maynor simply hoped he could get Walker back for his junior and senior campaigns. Now, he’s penciled the 16-year-old in as the starter against Captain Shreve Tuesday.
“These aren’t low-leverage situations I’m putting him into,” Maynor said. “He’s not scared. He just goes out there and pitches.”
Walker’s quick jump from sub-varsity to the big squad made his parents, Ryan and Samantha, a bit uneasy.
“They were really scared something might happen again, especially on varsity because there are good hitters on every team,” Brogan Walker said.
Depth perception was an obvious road block after the injury, but Walker says it’s “starting to normalize” thanks to the time he spent working to get back on the diamond.
In a strange twist, the injury has bolstered Walker’s courage on the bump.
“When I started playing summer ball, I realized I was still doing great even though I couldn’t see,” Walker said. “I saw I could still be good at the game and knew as the vision improves, I will only gain confidence.”
His first dose of varsity baseball was incredible.
Walker entered what would be Maynor’s milestone 600th victory with Haughton trailing. Before he delivered a pitch, he executed a pick-off play for the final out of the inning. The Buccaneers then rallied for a walk-off win.
“I don’t even know how to explain what I felt. It was funny,” Walker said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stat line like that. It was great.”
Move over, Moonlight Graham.
Walker says his vision is now around 20/80, but the future is uncertain.
“They don’t know how far it can heal,” he said. “There is no telling from here.”
Although he admits it might intimidate the opposition, Walker has ditched the eye patch on the mound.
“My parents were worried about my safety, and I’m still trying to strengthen my vision,” Walker said.
As you would expect with a locker room full of teenage boys, the jokes have been flying around since Walker began his comeback. It’s all in good fun, and Walker has no problem making fun of himself.
“I got the nickname Patchy,” Walker said. “But my teammates do express how proud they are, too.”
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