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Parkinson’s Stole Rockies Star’s Career, But Not His Courage

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Ben Petrick talks with CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

Ben Petrick talks with CBS4’s Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – A former Colorado Rockies player is sharing how his promising career was cut short by Parkinson’s disease.

Ben Petrick told nearly 400 people at a seminar sponsored by Swedish Medical Center and the Parkinson Association of the Rockies that the disease stole his career and his body, cut not his courage.

Thirteen years after he wowed the fans at Coors Field, back when he was considered the catcher of the future, a dozen years after the first sign, his promising career in baseball would be cut short.

“I was typing and I started mistyping with my left hand, and I’m like, ‘That’s strange, that’s not normal,” Petrick said. “I started looking at my hand more and there was a little tremor to it.”

It was Parkinson’s — a disorder of the nervous system. It was the same disease his father was diagnosed with just seven months earlier.

The golden boy athlete tried to fight the inevitable. He kept playing with Parkinson’s, but finally retired frustrated at 27.

“A few years later after I retired and I was sort of looking back, and the ‘what ifs’ kind of creep into your head. What could have been? But I try not to dwell on that kind of stuff,” Petrick said.

Petrick depends on medication. He’s had two deep brain stimulation operations and an infection from the first nearly killed him.

He focuses on family — his wife and two daughters. And he inspires crowds like those who attended the “Thriving with Parkinson’s” seminar.

“There are a lot of people struggling with this disease,” he said. “They’re just at home feeling like they’re handcuffed figuratively and literally.”

Petrick has published a collection of blogs called “Forty Thousand to One” explaining how he’s coped. He lives positively in the present.

“Being active — out with my kids … no giving up.”

Life threw Petrick a curve ball, but faith and family keep him in the game.

LINKS: Parkinson Association of the Rockies | Forty Thousand to One

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