Jack Kappenstein, John A. DeBenedictis MSBL: A Broken Nose for the Ages

Editor’s note: A couple of months back I sent out a plea for anyone out there to share their baseball experiences with us and I got a doozy of a response!  Jack Kappenstein resides in the John A DeBenedictis League, formerly the Tri-State Senior Baseball League with players from Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  He has broken his nose five times, mostly baseball related.  I cannot begin to convey the story so I will leave it to Jack to tell it himself.  (Steve LaMontia)

“This happened a few years back before the pandemic.  I was with the 55+ Braves in the John A. DeBenedictis (formerly the Tri-Sate) league.  This year I’ll be playing for the 65+ Mustangs and the 70+ Dodgers in the league.

This is the fifth time I have suffered a broken nose!  It’s really an awful feeling.  After the fourth one, I had to have surgery.  A blood clot had formed after the initial stitching, and it was also infected.  Terrible day.  I was awake for the entire operation, and it was on my son’s 13th birthday.  I swore I would never go through this again.

This fifth break happened at Miles Park in Plymouth Whitemarsh near Philadelphia.  I was playing left field.  I always try to measure the distance between the foul line and the fence when I play on a field so if there is a foul ball I can gauge how far to run.  But this field is different than most.  There is a restricted/environmentally protected area next to the field.  The chain link fence is on an angle, which yields a reduced area as it gets closer to home plate.

So, when the batter hit a sharp liner, I went after it.  There was a runner on second.  It landed near the foul line past third base on a hop and I didn’t know if it was fair or foul and caught it backhanded after the hop.  I had my head towards home thinking I would be able to stop and make the throw if it was fair, but

the ump showed no indication that it was indeed a foul ball.  It didn’t matter, as my momentum carried me face-first into the vertical metal pole that the fence was attached to.

It was really shocking and I hit the ground in a daze, as I was bleeding pretty badly.  At first, I thought it was my forehead, but then the throbbing pain made me realize that once again I had a badly broken nose.

I went to the dugout, which is where the photo was taken, and then proceeded to get to the rest room where I cleaned it up the best I could.  The swelling and discoloration had already begun.  But I knew that a trip to the hospital would be fruitless.  They could clean it up, but could only tell me that it was broken and that I should see a specialist. 

So, I went back to the dugout, as it was my turn to bat.  I grounded out.  The manager didn’t want me back in the field but I had one more at-bat and hit a flyout.

It looks terrible to this day and I have never even shown it to a doctor.  My family and friends always tell me to get it fixed, but it’s mangled.  It affects my breathing, especially at night, but I’ve gotten used to it.

I never want to go through that surgery and recovery again, and this would be even worse because of the degree of damage.  I really hate the way it looks and think people are always looking at it.  But new people I meet just think I always looked like this, so I accept it.

Maybe, if I ever stop playing ball, I’ll think about a permanent fix but I’ll be 70 later this year, so I’m kind of in the third trimester of life now.  I still work really hard to get to every catchable ball in the outfield.  I recently attended the Phillies ‘Phantasy Dream Week’ and won the Heart and Hustle Award so I guess it hasn’t affected my abilities.”