A Role Model On the Mound

Since major-league baseball pitcher Scott Eyre announced his ADHD diagnosis in 2001, he's turned around his life and inspired countless young athletes.

A Role Model On the Mound, Part 2

Since Eyre has gone public, a few other major league baseball players have come forth to say they have battled ADHD, too. Among them are Blue Jays relief pitcher Justin Miller and Giants reliever Matt Herges. Herges, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, went for a diagnosis after speaking with another player who had it.

"He told me all his symptoms and I said, 'Holy cow, that's me,'" Herges says. Since beginning drug therapy with Adderall early in the season last year, Herges is no longer out on the mound thinking about matters like the conversation taking place between fans sitting near the dugout or whether his wife's stadium seat is exposing her to the rain. Now he can think about the task at hand. His ERA last year was 2.62, down from 4.06 the season before. "Now, I'm a loaded gun," Herges says.

Strategies for Baseball — and Life

Eyre bought a Palm Pilot, leaves himself sticky notes, and takes his medicine every day before his games. It's become one of his superstitions, along with wearing the same socks with his uniform and not leaving the locker room for the bullpen until the first inning is under way. Not only has his pitching improved, but he no longer forgets to leave promised complimentary tickets at the ticket window for friends and acquaintances, something he did frequently before his diagnosis and treatment.

"It's one of the most embarrassing things there is," Eyre admits.

Eyre says he's grateful to Blue Jays therapist Hewes and the psychiatrist who diagnosed the disorder. "They basically changed my baseball career," he said.

Dr. Goodman at Johns Hopkins reminds us that it's usually a parent, spouse, coworker, or boss who is first to pick up on a person's attention issues. They may notice a pattern of disorganization, procrastination, or failure to complete tasks. Or it may be quirky habits, trouble waiting in line, showing up on time, or not letting others finish a sentence.

Before he was diagnosed, Eyre's wife, Laura, sensed something was amiss. "It was hard for him to carry on a conversation without getting distracted," she says. "He'd think of something else and just not hear the rest of what you were saying. Then he'd cut in and tell his story. If the kids interrupted him, he'd be unable to remember what he had been talking about." Now, he listens well, she says, and is much easier to talk to. He's also much more patient with his children, Caleb, 5, and Jacob, 3.

Parents approach Eyre after games nowadays and send letters thanking him for speaking of his struggle with his own chemistry. Because of Eyre, they tell him, their kids aren't afraid to admit they have ADHD, and are no longer loath to take their medicine.

"If I had one wish, I'd wish I could go back to high school and take my medication every day," Eyre says. "I could have accomplished so much more. But the more I learn now, the more I can get out to parents."

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TAGS: ADHD Role Models, Sports for ADHD Children, Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis,

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