The backside of Wyatt Johnson's left hand looks like some kind of map with symbols possibly directing the way to buried treasure.
But it's no map, it's a reminder of how close the Sonora High Wildcat senior baseball player came to losing his hand in a vehicle crash.
"I was going 15 mph in my truck, I shifted into second gear and I
started going off the side of the road, so I over-corrected," said
Johnson. "I had a lifted Toyota and it just rolled right over. When it
rolled, my hand flew out the window because they were down and the
truck landed on it. My hand was pretty much crushed."
An ambulance drove to Johnson to Sonora Regional Medical Center
where they immediately arranged for him to be airlifted to Modesto to
see a hand specialist.
"They told me at the hospital I was about 20 minutes away from
having my hand amputated," said Johnson. "There was no circulation and
it was blue all over. I was in surgery for six hours."
Once out of surgery, there was no guarantee Johnson would be able
to swing a bat, catch the ball in his glove or for that matter, play
"Right after the accident, baseball was the furthest thing from my
mind," said Wildcat head coach and Wyatt's father Scott Johnson. "But
he was already thinking about his rehab after surgery and while he was
in the hospital. It was real scary there for awhile."
The center fielder had to heal for a couple of months before he was
able to pick up a bat or ball. Johnson was cleared in November to do a
little throwing and swinging and around two months ago, he had another
surgery on his pinky and also got eight screws and metal plate inserted
into his hand.
Now Johnson goes to physical therapy two times per week for strengthening his hand in what is supposed to an 18-month rehab.
During baseball practice on Thursday at Bev Barron Field, there
were no visible signs of injury - other than the "map" on his hand -
and the returning All-Valley Oak League First Teamer looked smooth in
the outfield shagging flies as the Wildcats prepared for their season
opener today at Ripon Christian.
"I'm excited, I can't wait to get this season started," said
Johnson, who hit .300 a year ago with an on-base percentage of .438. "I
haven't played in a game in six months because of my hand - so I'm real
excited to play. I had to pretty much re-learn how to use my hand
again. But it feels good now, it was just a little stiff when we first
started practice. My grip strength has gone up."
"The outpouring of community support was tremendous," said Coach
Johnson. "A lot of the baseball team and parents really supported Wyatt
and visited him in the hospital. Without all that support, it would
have been a lot more difficult to get through."