High school baseball player doesn't let broken neck stop him

HOCKINSON, Wash. - A local high school baseball player whose neck was broken in a car crash is now wrapping up a successful senior season.

Michael Capps, 17, almost didn't return to play for Hockinson High School after the crash, which happened seven months ago. The teenager had swerved to miss a deer and rolled his parents' SUV.

"I couldn't feel my right arm, so I thought I pinched a nerve or something," he said.

That wasn't the case, though. It turned out he had two broken vertebrae in his neck. Doctors said it would take eight months to a year to recover and Capps would not be able to play baseball.

But Capps wanted to play ball so he set his own recovery schedule.

"Basically, everything they said I was moving up two months earlier," he said. "I was in the weight room with my neck brace on trying to stay in shape."

"I had the first practice marked on the calendar and I wanted to make sure I got there," he added. "Baseball's always been on my mind. It's the number one thing in my life so to not have it would have been devastating. So I just kept pushing through to make sure I could play this season."

And did he ever. Just five months after the crash, Capps was back on the field leading his team in strikeouts and throwing more innings than any other pitcher in the league.

"You know the guys kind of rallied around him and he leads by example out here on the field," said Steve Short, Hockinson High School's baseball coach. "And it's definitely been an inspiration for me, I know that."

"A lot of times his mother and I think about what might have been or what could have been," said Shannon Capps, the teenager's father. "And we're quick to change the subject and think about something else because it really could have been an awful outcome. And for it to be the outcome that it has been has been miraculous. It really has been a miracle."

Hockinson lost in the second round of the playoffs this year but Capps is not done. He earned All League and Senior All-Star nods for his strong season. He plans to play club ball this summer before playing at Clark.