A college baseball player died of surgery shortly after completing his freshman season at George Mason University in Virginia, according to the school and a funeral home.
The player, Sang Ho Baek, 20, died on June 12 at a TidalHealth medical facility in Salisbury, Maryland, according to the Holloway Funeral Home, which is operating. Scott Morgan, a teammate of Mr. Baek’s, said Mr. Baek died after complications from what is known as a Tommy John operation, a procedure to repair a torn ligament in his elbow.
Mr. Morgan said Mr. Baek, a right-handed pitcher, “has struggled with injuries throughout the season” at George Mason, a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia, with approximately 37,000 students.
“We are devastated by Sang’s death,” said coach Bill Brown in a statement. “Sang was an amazing teammate who was loved by everyone involved in Mason Baseball.”
Brad Edwards, the university’s sports director, said in the statement that Mr. Baek “embodied everything one would want in a student athlete”.
“He’s been an excellent student, dedicated teammate, and friend to so many,” he continued.
Tommy John’s surgery, officially known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, repairs a ligament that secures a person’s elbow joint that can be torn in sports that involve throwing, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The process, informally named after the Major League’s first pitcher, leaves players with a crescent-shaped scar on their elbows.
According to Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, the procedure is “relatively routine for baseball players.”
“His death is tragic,” said Dr. Galea. “It’s hard to tell what happened, and an autopsy will be required to determine the cause here. All operations, even relatively small and routine ones, involve a certain risk. “
Mr. Baek was born on January 31, 2001 in Seoul to Seong Han Baek and En Young Lee, according to the funeral home.
He played at James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury, Md., Where he helped his team win a 2019 state championship, according to George Mason University.
Mr. Baek recently completed his freshman season with the university’s baseball team, the Patriots. He appeared in seven games for the team and made his college debut on March 12, according to the university.
The funeral home said that Mr. Baek attended the Korean Presbyterian Church, where he was part of the youth group and played drums in their worship band. In 2018, Mr. Baek went on a missionary trip to Nicaragua, where he helped build houses for people and teach the gospel to children.
In addition to his parents, he has a sister, Sun Ho Baek, the funeral home said.