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Jost using JSBL to work back to the college diamond

August 4, 2011

Manasquan graduate Barry Jost remembers vividly hearing his doctor mutter the three words that send a shiver down every baseball player’s spine — Tommy John surgery.

“My jaw just dropped instantly,” said Jost, of hearing the news he would need the infamous baseball surgery. “It is the dreaded words for any baseball player. I was in shock. I was only 19 years old, and I hadn’t even really gotten the chance to play college ball yet.”

Tommy John surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction to those in the medical world, is named after Tommy John, a lefty pitcher who earned 288 career wins over a 26-year Major League career.

John was the first baseball player in the history of the majors to undergo the surgery.

Like most players who are stricken with an injury to their ulnar collateral ligament, Jost had no warning signs while playing his freshman year at Eastern University in 2010.

“One day, it just gave out on me,” he recalled. “I went to make a throw from third base, and I could not reach first base.

“Coach asked me if I was fine,” he continued. “I said yes and then the next throw did not reach again.”

After taking in the horrific news from his doctor, Jost could feel the baseball career he had worked so hard for crumbling down all around him.

“I thought I was done and that it was the end of my baseball career,” said Jost. “With an injury like this, I thought it had to be over.”

After being told by numerous people that players can come back successfully from the surgery, Jost quickly switched his focus from self-pity to self-determination.

“The driving force was the hope to come back,” said Jost. “People kept telling me I could come back stronger and throw the ball harder.”

After undergoing the surgery in March 2010, Jost worked tirelessly to recover in hopes of joining the Eagles during the sophomore season. However, after a year of being pain-free, a setback during spring break baseball in Myrtle Beach, S.C. delayed Jost’s opportunity to return to the field for Eastern, as he was hampered with a bad case of tendonitis.

“I got lucky, but before I knew it was tendonitis, I thought it was over again,” Jost said.

Unable to make it back on the field for the Eagles, Jost would have to wait until this year’s Jersey Shore Baseball League [JSBL] season to return to live game action.

Jost, who has been involved with the Angels for more than five years, was grateful to be accepted back to the team with open arms by Wall manager Sal Palmieri after missing the entire 2010 summer on the field.

Despite loving the team, Jost kept his distance from the Angels dugout in 2010, finding it hard to show up to the field as a spectator.

“There are no words to describe, and I can’t thank coach Palmieri enough for just giving me a chance to be there,” he said, of returning. “I took a whole year off and could not show up in [2010] a lot, just due to the fact it was so painful to not be out there. When I came back, it was like I never left.

“That is the hardest part about getting Tommy John, is not playing,” continued Jost. “The physical therapy was a breeze, but it hurt to know I could not play baseball.”

Palmieri never hesitated to make Jost feel like he was back at home with the Angels, throwing him right into the starting lineup this season.

When Angel teammate and Manasquan 2011 graduate Nick Lustrino was away for a stretch early in the regular season, Palmieri presented Jost with the opportunity to play Lustrino’s position at shortstop.

“He approached me when Lustrino was [away] and asked me if I wanted to play shortstop,” said Jost. “That was like sitting on Santa’s lap for a little kid for me. We have some phenomenal infielders on this team and for him to ask me to play shortstop was just unbelievable.”

Palmieri has been impressed with Jost’s determination and performance coming off of major surgery.

“Barry has played all the infield positions for us and has done a great job,” said the manager. “That is not just coming from me, all the guys on team have come up to me and said he is doing a great job out there as well.”

“He is still building his arm strength, but he has been accurate,” Palmieri continued. “He doesn’t make throwing errors and it has been great to see him work so hard to get back. He loves the game of baseball.”

The encouragement from Palmieri and his Angel teammates has kept Jost even more driven throughout the summer.

“It means a lot,” said Jost. “I have been working as hard as I can for Coach Palmieri because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay him for what he has done for me.”

So after 28 regular season games and with the playoffs looming next week, how does Jost’s arm feel after a countless number of throws?

“It feels great, like I have a brand new arm,” he said excitedly. “It is stronger and more flexible — it’s great.”

The Wall Angels earned the 2011 National Division title [see related notebook] and following the playoffs, Jost will focus on his main goal — getting back to college baseball.

“I want to start and make sure I stand out as a top player in the conference,” Jost said. “I do not want to sound cocky or arrogant, but I feel that I am going to work harder than anybody to make sure those goals happen. I will work until everything falls into place.”

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