The renowned specialist in Nashville held the tests results on the 21-year-old college third baseman seated in front of him. The patient’s mother sat next to her son. The doctor ruled out any structural abnormality of the eyes. He could diagnose only one reason why this otherwise healthy young athlete suddenly was losing his vision.
“There is this very, very rare condition called visual snow syndrome,” the doctor said. He opened a reference book to the pages describing the condition. “All these symptoms match up with what you’ve been experiencing.”
The next words out of the doctor’s mouth would change the young man’s life.
“I’m sorry. There is no cure.”
Sometime this summer Major League Baseball will conduct an ad hoc version of its amateur draft. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which halted all baseball since mid-March, it may be shortened from its usual 40 rounds to between five and 10 rounds.
Players under consideration by major league teams include the usual assortment of comeback stories, such as pitchers recovered from Tommy John surgery or position players coming back from broken bones, torn hamstrings or poor seasons.
Few if any of the comeback stories will have covered as trying a physical and emotional arc as the one of Michael Neustifter of North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.
“That was a real blow after leaving that doctor,” he says. “I thought I played my last baseball game. I could probably live a somewhat normal life with what I had. Unfortunately, I play a game where the eyes are probably the most important tool.”