Softball players revive teammate

‘It was day of miracles’ said one player
By: Gloria Beverage
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It was a “day of miracles,” recalled Jim “Doc” Stocker.

Active with the Lincoln Hills Recreational Softball League for 10 years before moving to Phoenix, Ariz. last year, Stocker was in Lincoln Hills last April to watch the opening day ceremonies.

Later in the week, the 70-year-old retired physician sat in the home team dugout watching his former teammates.

“It wasn’t a very nice day. It had been raining, but it had stopped briefly,” he said. “The team made their outs and headed to the outfield. No sooner had they gotten out (on the field) than Randy (Dvorak) collapsed.”

Within seconds, several teammates were at Dvorak’s side.

Rick Wood, a retired firefighter/EMT, immediately began chest compressions with assistance from David Huges and Jim Wyatt.

“He was a dead man walking,” Wood, 69, recalled. “He was down for the count.”

Stocker and others ran from the dugout to assist.

“While the teammates kept CPR going, Paul Krow got the AED (automated external defibrillator) set up,” Stocker said.

Once it was ready, the portable unit was used to send an electric shock to Dvorak’s heart to try to restore a normal rhythm, Stocker explained.

“It’s a moment some of the people participating will never forget,” he explained. “(The shock) lifted him off the ground. It literally lifted him off the ground.”

Twenty seconds later, Dvorak was back – drawing a deep breath and responding to questions from his teammates.

“He was completely lucid by the time the paramedics arrived a minute or so later,” Stocker continued.

Those 20 seconds were critical, Stocker acknowledged. If it hadn’t been for the quick response of his teammates and the availability of the AED, “Randy wouldn’t be here today.”

Dvorak has no memory of what happened.

“What I remember is going to the outfield on the bottom of the fourth inning,” Dvorak said. “I turned around to face the diamond to be ready for the next pitch.”

It was a surprise, then, to find himself on the ground with his teammates anxiously staring down at him.

Paramedics transported Dvorak to the hospital. Two days later, he had surgery to replace an aortic heart valve.

Kathi Sinor, in the interim, tracked down Dvorak’s wife, Sharon, filled her in on what had happened and arranged to drive her to the hospital.

“I wasn’t at the ball park that day,” Sharon Dvorak said. “If I had been, I don’t think I would have handled it well.”

Diagnosed with aortic stenosis, Dvorak had been monitored by a doctor for more than three years.

“His condition had been worsening,” Wood said. “I could tell. He would come off the field pale and out of breath. He knew he had a problem.”

In December, the doctor had raised concerns about the worsening condition of the valve and began recommending tests and possible surgery. He warned Dvorak that the condition could result in “sudden death.”

Fortunately, there were “angels in the outfield” when Dvorak did experience sudden death.

“Timing was everything that day,” Sharon Dvorak said. “The people who needed to be there were on hand to do CPR. People were praying. When Randy was brought back, some of the men started crying.”

Dvorak, 71, added, “I’m thankful I was where I was on that day.”

The couple, who moved to Lincoln Hills in 2005, has expanded their family – “adopting” the six “angels in the outfield.” 

“We have a wonderful community,” Sharon Dvorak said. “It is a family. Everybody is watching out for each other. 

Dvorak has given up playing outfield and now focuses his energy on coaching his former teammates.