NorthJersey.com—December 7, 2010
Thomas Adams, 16, collapsed and died Friday night when he was struck in the chest with a baseball in the gym at Blessed Sacrament School in Paterson. He was wearing an Easton chest protector, according to witnesses, while practicing with the Braves, a Professional Baseball Instruction League travel team.
The sophomore probably succumbed to commotio cordis, a sudden, usually fatal condition that occurs when a blow to the chest wall at a specific point between beats disrupts the electrical activity in the heart, medical experts said. The heart stops beating and instead just shakes and quivers.
"This is fairly typical — the blow stuns the heart and you feel like you can't breathe," said Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine physician with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "It's the wrong force at the wrong angle at the wrong time. It's such a tragedy because it strikes totally healthy athletes doing what they love."