How an Outfield-Wall Collision Changed One Baseball Player’s Life

“The wall won.”
That’s how retired Chicago White Sox minor-leaguer Greg Shepard recalls the life-changing night in 2000 when he violently crashed into the left center field wall while trying to run down a fly ball.
Most people would’ve done exactly what his then-wife implored — rush to an emergency room — when he woke up the next morning basically paralyzed. “I couldn’t lift my body out of bed, turn my head, or move my right arm,” he says. But not Shepard.
“I told her, ‘Open the telephone book and find me a chiropractor.’”
And that, in a way he didn’t fully realize at the time, was the life-changer.
Shepard so feared “losing my job” from a prolonged absence on the disabled list — can you relate to that? — that he decided to stick with that same chiropractor even after the neck-and-spine surgeon his team sent him for a second opinion recommended surgery to repair the damage done to his neck in the collision. “Once he set my occiput back into place, my arm started working. A few days later, I could turn my head and fully look at the pitcher again. I was amazed.”
He never missed a game all season after that.
And one reason he knows “occiput” refers to the back part of the neck is that today — after years spent doing things like coaching and motivational speaking when his own baseball career finally ended — Shepard is actually pursuing a dream he’d kept in his back mind ever since the crash-up: He just finished his first of several years at a chiropractic college, and joins the ranks of other athletes like NFL legend Jerry Rice as a big supporter of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.

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