It can be easy to become distracted at a baseball game. There are beach balls bouncing around in the stands, beer guys yelling as they walk up and down the stairs, people talking and cheering everywhere you look. It can be a bit difficult to focus. Just ask Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, who is speaking publicly in a new book about suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. Victorino spoke to Stan Hochman at the Inquirer about it:
“Baseball is the best. Sure, you can go 0-for-4 and strike out twice. But the next day you can go 4-for-4 and drive in the winning run and be a hero. Throw an interception in football and you fret for a whole week, waiting for the chance to redeem yourself.”
Victorino’s ADD got him in trouble early on in his life, as a boy growing up in Hawaii. But he has since been able to manage his ADD with both medication and baseball itself. Here’s an article detailing how one doctor thinks sports and exercise can help alleviate symptoms of ADD, and Victorino is anecdotal proof of that.
In his article, Hochman notes that 108 Major League players have medical exemptions for ADD. More than any other sport, Major League Baseball has gone out of its way to take care of any of its players suffering from mental disorders, from ADD to clinical depression. And it’s paying great dividends both on the field (witness Zach Greinke’s ascension after overcoming his social anxieties) and off.
I dislike writers who take the whole “think of the children” angle to various sporting issues. But in the case of someone like Victorino, it really is a nice thing for people suffering from ADD (especially children) to see public figures such as Victorino speak openly about their issues and provide an example for succeeding in the face of them. Victorino’s admission isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but that’s the point.
We’re reaching a point where baseball has nearly stripped away a lot of the macho façade hiding this kind of stuff. And that will always be a good thing.