Mat Mikesell

Gems outfielder doesn't want health scare to end baseball career

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 20, 2017 10:35 am

QUINCY

Frankie Perrone thought he simply had a really bad headache.

He didn't think his life would be in danger just a few hours later.

The Quincy Gems outfielder and Eastern Illinois University student was at his home in Park Ridge, 15 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, last Thursday. Perrone had left the Gems for a few days after his uncle died earlier in the week.

He was watching television with friends in the basement of his parents' house when his head started to hurt. When it got worse, he asked his mom to drive him to the hospital.

"We walked into the emergency room, and the second I walked in, I sat in a wheelchair and told the lady at the front desk to take me to a room because I was going to pass out," Perrone said. "I eventually passed out in the wheelchair and woke up being rushed down the hallway."

Perrone doesn't remember much from the events that followed.

He remembers laying in a bed in a room before passing out again.

He remembers waking back up with doctors standing over him, and one of the doctors holding defibrillation pads.

He remembers looking at his mom, who was in the corner of the room, and giving her a thumbs up.

She filled him in on the rest.

Perrone's heart had stopped beating for 15 seconds. Doctors had to give him CPR to revive him and bring him back to life. About 30 minutes later, Perrone said it happened again, and his heart flatlined for five seconds.

"The doctor said if they didn't do CPR, I would have died right there on the table," Perrone said. "It was definitely weird knowing that if I wasn't where I was, I wouldn't be living anymore."

Perrone, who batted .229 in 35 at-bats for the Gems this summer, said the only history he's had with heart issues was an irregular heartbeat. This incident, however, has put baseball on hold. Perrone won't return to the Gems this summer, but he's hopeful he can still play his junior season at EIU.

"It definitely scared me," Perrone said. "My family and I are working through it."

Perrone is still admitted at Lutheran General Hospital in his hometown, and he doesn't know when he'll be released because doctors don't know what caused his heart to stop beating.

He's received support from friends, family and teammates from Quincy and Charleston. Perrone and his friends even started a hashtag on Twitter labeled "#backfromthedead," a tongue-in-cheek joke to show Perrone's toughness.

"I tweeted that as a joke," Perrone said. "People started saying stuff like that. Any support helps."

It's helping Perrone get through the days at the hospital until he's able to go home. He's eager to get back to a normal life.

For Perrone, that means getting back into the weight room and preparing for his baseball career to resume.

"The second they tell me I can go back to physical activity, I'm going to get back in the weight room and get in shape before I go to EIU," Perrone said. "I'm not one to really just relax."

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