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A college baseball player died of surgery shortly after completing his freshman season at George Mason University, Virginia, according to the school and the player’s father.
The player, Sang Ho Baek, 20, died June 12 at a TidalHealth medical facility in Salisbury, Maryland, said his father Seong Han Baek.
He said his son died after complications from what was known as Tommy John surgery, a procedure to repair a torn ligament in his elbow that he performed on June 8.
“Our family is devastated and we want answers to why our healthy son dies so suddenly after a routine operation,” he said.
Scott Morgan, a teammate of Mr. Baek’s, said Mr. Baek, a right-handed pitcher, had “battled injuries throughout the season” at George Mason, a public research university in Fairfax, Virginia, with approximately 37,000 students.
Sang Ho “was an incredible teammate who was loved by everyone involved in Mason baseball,” said coach Bill Brown in a statement.
Officially known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, the Tommy John surgery repairs a ligament that secures a person’s elbow joint that can be torn in sports that involve throwing, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The procedure, informally named after the first Major League pitcher, leaves players with a crescent-shaped scar on their elbows.
According to Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, the process is “relatively routine” for baseball players.
“His death is tragic,” said Dr. Galea. “It’s hard to tell what happened, and an autopsy will be needed to determine the cause here. All operations, even relatively small and routine ones, involve a certain risk. “
Mr. Baek was born on January 31, 2001 in Seoul to Seong Han Baek and En Young Lee, according to the Holloway Funeral Home. He played at James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury, Md., Where he helped his team win a 2019 state championship, according to George Mason University.
Mr. Baek recently completed his freshman season with the university’s baseball team, the Patriots. He appeared in seven games for the team and made his college debut on March 12, according to the university.
The funeral home said that Mr. Baek attended the Korean Presbyterian Church, where he was part of the youth group and played drums in their worship band.
In 2018, Mr. Baek went on a missionary trip to Nicaragua, where he helped build houses for people and teach the gospel to children.
In addition to his parents, he has a sister, Sun Ho Baek, the funeral home said.