Drew Robinson is really doing this. He's playing professional baseball with one eye. Drew Robinson is playing professional baseball with one eye and he's capable of hitting home runs.
Robinson's unthinkable comeback 13 months after attempting to kill himself and losing his right eye reached a mythological size after he homered for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats in his first at-bat Tuesday night.
Playing in his hometown of Las Vegas, not more than two miles from where his life-altering trauma occurred in April of 2020, Robinson connected against Matt Milburn for a solo homer in the top of the second inning.
The River Cats, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, recorded it for posterity:
Showing in a later at-bat that his homer was not a fluke occurrence, Robinson nearly went deep again against top Oakland Athletics prospect A.J. Puk:
Robinson, 28 years old, finished 2 for 3 with a walk in a 10-7 win for Las Vegas. He started the season by going hitless in eight at-bats but is showing he's still got the abilities that got him to the majors four years ago.
Playing baseball at any level — especially trying to hit a baseball — is hard enough while using two functioning eyes, but Robinson is keeping his dream alive with just one eye after losing nearly everything. And he's doing it so close to the major leagues, which he reached for the first time in 2017 with the Texas Rangers. In parts of three seasons with the Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals, Robinson hit .202/.296/.359 with nine home runs in 253 plate appearances over 100 games.
Good enough to say he made it, but not good enough to stay. Robinson's failure in the majors was just one part of his mental health issues. In February, he shared his story with the public with the help of reporter Jeff Passan at ESPN:
"'I'm here for a reason,' Robinson said.
"Robinson’s suicide attempt wasn’t a snap decision. According to Passan’s reporting, Robinson had struggled with his mental health for years, and his help-seeking efforts didn’t alleviate his depression and suicidal ideation.
"The COVID-19 pandemic compounded the situation. The baseball world came to a standstill on March 12, and Robinson retreated to isolation at his house in Las Vegas. He had just called off his wedding with his fiancée, Daiana, as he doubted his ability to get back to the Majors after signing a Minor League deal with the Giants in January and didn’t want to continue to put her through the difficulties and hardships associated with that life.
"Robinson picked up a handgun from a local store on March 30. Sixteen days later, he decided to go through with it."
Robinson lost his eye, but recovered the will to live and kept his passion for playing baseball. Robinson hopes his own determination will inspire someone else, no matter their predicament, to keep going.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).