Galloway Boy's Passion for Baseball Helped Him Overcome Devastating Injury
Jimmy Pasquale was confined to a bed for six months after breaking his femur during football practice.
Injuries can prove devastating to the most experienced and battle tested athletes. Serious injuries have been known to finish the most promising of careers, and even those who recover and continue to play the sport they love may never be the same.
An injury to an athlete in their early 20’s can often provide the true measure of the athlete, and football injuries are particularly devastating. For example, former Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter had a promising career in the NFL before a knee injury in his first preseason game derailed his career before it started. Carter never lived up to his potential, despite playing eight years of pro football.
Jimmy Pasquale, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Galloway, suffered a devastating football injury of his own. However, for the aspiring baseball player, failure has never been an option.
Pasquale broke his femur during a tackling drill in practice with the Galloway Renegades in October of 2011. According to his parents, Jim and Vicky Pasquale, their son couldn’t walk for six months after his injury, but his love for baseball didn’t allow him to fall by the wayside.
“Football was just something he was doing, but baseball is his real passion,” Jim Pasquale said.
“I love baseball. It’s what I want to do, and I wasn’t going to let a leg injury stop me from doing what I want to do,” Jimmy Pasquale said. “That’s what drives me.”
Pasquale’s played baseball ever since he could pick up a bat, and he’s done so in an organized fashion since he was five years old. He wants to play high school and college baseball, and like many children his age, has dreams of playing for the New York Yankees.
He’s one of few children his age who has already undergone two surgeries, and had an external fixator placed in his leg.
“He had pins sticking out of his leg, holding metal rods in place,” Jim Pasquale said.
The external fixator held his leg together between surgeries, and three months after his second surgery, was able to put 50 percent of his weight on his leg. Six months after his injury he began physical therapy. During this time, Pasquale dressed in his uniform and watched his team play for a majority of the season while he was unable to be out there himself.
“It was hard to watch everyone else do what I love to do,” Jimmy Pasquale said. “I knew I would be able to play again.”
“He never complained,” Jim Pasquale said. “He was always supportive of his team.”
And they were always supportive of him. They came to visit him at home when he couldn’t get out of bed, and they made him a card.
He was cleared to play baseball in July.
In his first game back with the South Jersey Sand Sharks travelling team, he went 7-for-8 at the plate in a tournament in Aberdeen, Maryland.
“It was the greatest thing ever,” Jimmy Pasquale said of his return and his performance that day.
But something was missing.
“He was still limping,” Jim Pasquale said. “He had a few hits that could have been doubles, but he just wasn’t fast enough. He was not able to run full speed.”
His recovery wasn’t complete and he knew it.
He enrolled at Ryan Ojeda’s Ojeda Sports Performance in Smithville. The family knew Ojeda from when Jimmy Pasquale worked with him at Parisi Speed School. When he learned of the injury, Ojeda invited Jimmy Pasquale to work out at his facility.
“He built his strength back up to normal,” Jim Pasquale said. “He was able to walk and run, and he developed muscle in his legs. He’s been training hard and now he’s back to 100 percent.”
Pasquale enrolled in Ojeda’s program for 10 and 11-year-olds. They train three times a week for 10 weeks at a time.
He was cleared for contact on Feb. 4 of this year, the day after the Super Bowl. The season begins March 23.
“He couldn’t slide and he couldn’t run full speed,” Vicky Pasquale said. “He’s back to where he is because of Ryan.”
He’s also back because of himself.
“This was something that could’ve crippled his career,” Ojeda said. “But he was more upbeat and more fearless than the rest of his family.”
His family includes his sister Sophia, 10, who helped him during his recovery process.
“She helped him so much,” Jim Pasquale said. “Whatever he needed, she was there for him.”
Sophia Pasquale plays softball, tennis and basketball.
Jimmy Pasquale also plays basketball, and he could play football if he chooses to, but that’s not his passion.
For now, the boy who has a hard time putting his love for the game into words looks forward to an entire season of playing baseball at 100 percent for the team Anaheim Angels outfielder and former Millville High School standout Mike Trout once played for.
This season will include trips to Myrtle Beach and Long Island, and next season brings with it the promise of a trip to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“He worked his butt off to get back on the field,” Jim Pasquale said. “He’s an inspiration to us.”
“He’s our hero,” Vicky Pasquale said.