Virginia college baseball player reportedly dies after Tommy John surgery

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(NewsNation Now) — A Virginia college baseball player died this month, according to his university. But, a GoFundMe account set up to help his family claims he died as a result of a surgery related to a sports injury that’s getting more common among younger pitchers.

Sang Ho Baek, 20, died on June 12, according to a statement from George Mason University.

“Sang embodied everything you would want from a student-athlete,” GMU athletic director Brad Edwards said in the statement. “He was an excellent student, dedicated teammate and friend to so many.”

According to the GoFundMe, Baek died from complications after Tommy John surgery.

It’s named after the first major league pitcher who underwent the procedure and returned to the sport. It’s formally known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction. More pitchers at all levels of the game are tearing their UCL’s, and therefore getting this procedure. A tendon from the patient’s body is grafted to their elbow to create a new UCL. Recovery can take more than a year.

Johns Hopkins’ website says a potential complication is “nerve or blood vessel damage” that could lead to permanent numbness or weakness, but does not suggest anything fatal.

Baek was a native of Salisbury, Maryland, on the state’s eastern shore. His university bio says he helped his high school win a state championship in 2019. He pitched 9.2 innings for GMU this season.

A university spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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