White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar has thrown hundreds of pitches from the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field, but none came with as much emotion as the strike he unleashed Friday night.
Six weeks after suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage during a game at the ballpark, Farquhar threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Sox’s 8-3 victory over the Brewers.
The pitch — caught by close friend and fellow Sox reliever Nate Jones — was an emotional moment for Farquhar, his family, the medical team that helped save his life and the teammates who stood behind the mound in support.
“The thing that caught me off-guard was the whole team coming out to the mound,” Farquhar said with his wife, Lexie, by his side. “I thought that was an incredibly special moment.”
Farquhar, 31, might not have lived to see it had it not been for the quick work of team medical personnel and doctors at Rush University Medical Center on the night of April 20. Farquhar collapsed in the dugout during a game against the Astros and was taken to Rush, where he spent 18 days in intensive care after surgery to repair a ruptured aneurysm.
Despite the near-death experience, he said he always believed he would take the mound again.
“When I woke up in the ICU, I was like, ‘I can’t believe they put on the 60-day [disabled list],’ ” Farquhar said. “I’ve been working out hard, but the ability to be out there, I feel like I’m very, very fortunate. To be able to throw out a first pitch was incredible.”
Farquhar said Friday’s pitch was the first he had thrown since April 20 and that he’s hopeful for a return to the majors in the future. (The Sox have said he won’t pitch again this season.) He has been working out 90 minutes per day, avoiding weightlifting that could increase his blood pressure.
“As far as aerobically, I’m feeling really strong,” said Farquhar, who added that he’s still having issues with his memory. “I think I’ll be back there one day.”
Whether he returns to the majors or not, Farquhar said the events of April 20 have been life-altering.
“When you wake up in the hospital and you’ve got like 20-something staples in your head and a drain coming out the other side and . . . you have no memories, it puts life in perspective of how quickly it can change,” he said. “When you’re at a baseball game, you’re 31 years old, you think everything’s going to be just fine, and it could’ve turned so quickly. You really learn to appreciate your wife and kids so much more.
“One day we’re all going to go, but you’d like to not be as young as I am with three kids, one who’s 6 months old, and two older ones. So you look at everybody differently.”
Farquhar’s story has captured attention on a national level, and the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
“It’s because of the type of person that he is,” Jones said. “He’s good-hearted, good-natured, and he works hard at everything he does. He’s a fighter, obviously. He’s shown everybody that. I think that resonates with everybody.”
That includes opponents Farquhar has never met.
“I have gotten lots of text messages and gifts from guys I’ve never even played with,” he said. “It’s been very special to have baseball back me as much as they have.”