The surgeon who helped save the life of Royals manager Ned Yost knew nothing of the 63-year-old’s stature.
She knew nothing about his lifelong career in baseball or how he made his livelihood or even that he’d won a World Series championship two years earlier.
As she operated on him for more than two hours in November at Grady Memorial Hospital in November, all she knew was a group of trauma specialists had brought him back from the brink of death. It was now up to her to put him back together.
Mara Schenker and her team inserted rods, attached plates and drilled screws into his shattered pelvis. They put the finishing touches on stabilizing a break that would have cost Yost his life had he not arrived at the trauma center in Atlanta as quickly — 23 minutes by airlift — as he did after falling 20 feet out a tree stand on his farm in Meriwether County, Ga.
“The doctors that they had there, literally, without exaggeration, they saved my life,” Yost said on Friday, maybe for the 100th time since the accident that struck fear into those in and around the Royals organization. “They did. I was dying — and very easily could’ve died.”
Six months later, Yost is very much alive. He’s managing a team that is off to its worst start since 2006, but he’s not letting any of the pressure associated with that fact taint his perspective.
He’s enjoying doing what he loves, guiding a mixed group of veterans and younger players through a major-league baseball season for a ninth year in Kansas City.
On Saturday, he allowed Schenker and her team to get a glimpse of his world, inviting them to Kauffman Stadium. They made a trip out of Yost’s six-month follow-up. They planned to get barbecue, Yost said, and venture into Kansas to cross off a bucket-list item.
And minutes before the Royals played the second game of a doubleheader against the White Sox on Saturday, the group stood together in the center of the diamond as Schenker unfurled the ceremonial first pitch to Yost.
Schenker was also afforded the chance to marvel at the progress Yost has made in his recovery.
Yost still hurts at times. A pair of three-hour bus rides — the team drove from Omaha to Kansas City and from Detroit to Cleveland when games in those cities were canceled or postponed because of inclement weather — near the beginning of April caused enough discomfort for him to complain about his hip. The cold weather the Royals battled the first few weeks of the season didn’t help matters.
Other than that, it can be hard to tell Yost nearly died in a hospital during the offseason.
“For somebody his age, I was a little bit surprised how strong his bone was, in putting in all of the screws,” she said. “I’m not surprised that he healed as well as he did.”