It's been three years since Lafayette graduate Ike Book has thrown a baseball without feeling pain. However, what has been hurting him more is the thought of his baseball career ending.
Pain in Book's right arm began his sophomore year of high school.
"They diagnosed it initially as a partial tear and so that's what we thought it was. We tried multiple things that the doctor said would help a partial tear and none of it ended up working," Book said.
The multi-sport athlete knew surgery would mean throwing again, but he did not want to sit on the sideline during baseball and basketball season.
Even though Book wasn't able to pitch, he became a designated hitter for Lafayette. He struck out three times his senior year and received offers from several colleges to be play baseball as a designated hitter.
Book's baseball coaches at Lafayette said it was tough seeing their star player not be able to throw or pitch like they knew he yearned to do. They made the decision to have Book return to defense his senior year.
"We decided to have him play first even though he can't make hard throws. That was better than him not being on the field," Book's former Lafayette coach Jason Hale said.
Book's injury gave him no issues when it came to shooting and dribbling on the hardwood. His basketball skills as a shooting guard only led to more college offers.
Choosing between the two sports wasn't an easy decision for Book.
"The injury left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want my baseball to end like that," Book said. "That motivated me to play baseball."
The 18-year-old made his decision after graduation to undergo surgery in hopes of furthering his baseball career.
Nearing Book's surgery, his doctor informed him that the injury was worse than a partial tear. Book had teared his ulnar collateral ligament, which is the major stabilizer of the elbow.
In hopes of fixing the injury, Book underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery, last month. During the surgical procedure, Book's healthy tendon in his left arm was extracted and used to replace his right arm's torn ligament. The healthy tendon is threaded through holes drilled into the bone above and below the elbow.
Book said the two-hour procedure went better than he had expected.
"I've never had surgery before, so I was a little scared, but the doctors said it went pretty well," Book said.
His biggest challenge right now is remaining patient.
"The doctors told me month four or five it'll feel good, but I still can't throw hard," Book said. "Staying patient and staying in the process is the toughest thing."
The future college student decided to attend his freshman year at Missouri Western beginning this fall. He will continue to go to physical therapy near Kansas City while taking general education courses in St. Joseph. Book then plans to attend a junior college and continue his baseball career.
"If anyone young person with this injury could come back and be a hundred percent next season, it’s Ike Book," Hale said.
Book expects to throw again in nine months, but admits it will be closer to 15 months until he is 100 percent recovered.
Though a long process, Book is determined to make it all worth it.
"The doctors almost guarantee me it'll be like new arm so I can’t ask for anything more than that," Book said. "That’s pretty awesome to throw again and maybe even pitch."