As we open the file of stuff you never in a million years thought would happen: Former major leaguer Geremi Gonzalez was killed by lightning on Sunday while riding a personal watercraft on a lake in his native Venezuela. You may recall that Gonzalez won 11 games for the Cubs as a rookie in 1997, but are you aware that he was the guy who delivered the pitch to Sammy Sosa in the infamous corked bat incident on June 3, 2003? And now he's been taken in the most surreal way imaginable. Lightning? Really?
"It's a tragic thing," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "I liked him a lot. He was a competitive kid and really good-natured. He enjoyed putting on a uniform and competing and having fun. It's a shame." Gonzalez suffered an elbow injury in 1998 that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He missed four major-league seasons before resurfacing with Piniella¹s Devil Rays in 2003, going 6-11 in a career-high 28 starts.
According to the National Weather Service, your chances of being struck by lightning are greater than you think, probably; I was surprised to find out that it's only 1-in-5,000 in the U.S., apparently (significantly higher for Iron Man). I recall walking from an auto repair shop to a hotel in Yreka, Calif., one afternoon when a sudden thunderstorm hit, with a couple of lightning bolts landing a few yards from me. It's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and kind of makes you take stock of your life, in a strange way. I remember thinking, what did I do to piss off Zeus?
Condolences to Gonzalez's family and friends at this tragic news.
Ex-MLB Pitcher Gonzalez Killed By Lightning [CBS.Sportsline]
Former Cubs Pitcher Gonzalez Killed By Lightning Strike [Chicago Sun-Times]