For 2010 Adairsville High graduate Bo Edwards, a lifetime’s worth of highs and lows have been compressed into just over a year’s time.
On June 1, 2013, Edwards was celebrating a junior college national championship as a key contributor to the Central Alabama baseball team. Four months later, Edwards had brain surgery to repair a malformation of his brain, effectively ending his promising baseball career, or so he thought.
Roughly eight months after the surgery, Edwards is ready to return to baseball and will be attending North Georgia in the fall to play out the remaining two years of his eligibility.
“Baseball wasn’t even on my mind for the first few months [after surgery]. To be honest, I was just kind of worried about my life and I just wanted to be well enough to maybe throw around with kids. Then I started making progress and decided I would give it another shot,” Edwards said. “I didn’t think I would ever play again. I’m just fortunate enough to be blessed to go out there and be able to play. When I figured I would be able to play baseball again, I just decided to give it 110 percent again.”
Edwards was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, which is malformation of the brain. It consists of a downward displacement of the cerebellar tonsils through the opening at the base of the skull.
“I had headaches off and on, but it was just a headache. Then I started to get really bad headaches and nose bleeds, vomiting and all that and just excruciating pain,” Edwards said. “I finally went to the doctor and went to about three or four specialists and they diagnosed me with that.”
Even while dealing with the headaches, Edwards played a major role in helping Central Alabama win the JUCO World Series.
Edwards hit .295 during the 2013 regular season with a .424 on-base percentage, but became especially hot during the postseason. He went 5-for-12 during his team’s last three wins in the World Series. He had four RBIs, including a home run, while also taking three walks during that span. Edwards was on such a roll that, during one of the World Series games, he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded to force in a run in the ninth inning. The walk was part of a Central Alabama rally from a four-run deficit in the ninth inning to bring the game into extra innings. Central Alabama would then complete the comeback with a walk-off win in the 11th to keep its season alive and eventually win the World Series.
After winning the JUCO World Series, Edwards’ baseball career had never been so promising. He was proceeding with his career on to the University of North Georgia, a Division II program in the Peach Belt Conference.
However, it was not long after Edwards experienced his biggest success that he would soon face his biggest challenge. The Chiari malformation began to take its toll on Edwards, who finally decided to see a doctor. The diagnosis was made and Edwards went under the knife.
The recovery process from the surgery took its toll on Edwards.
“I was kind of slow. If you asked me a question, I kind of had to think about it for a second. That was normal from the surgery, but it was just the physical toll it took on my body,” Edwards said. “The first time I went up to North Georgia, I was 215 pounds. I dropped down to 171 on the day of my surgery, so gaining back all the weight, that was probably the toughest part. How much it hurt doing all those exercises and all that, that was pretty tough, just the mental part of it.”
The return from brain surgery is the third comeback Edwards has had to make in his brief collegiate baseball career.
After a stellar four years at Adairsville High School in which he was the 2010 Daily Tribune News All-County Baseball Player of the Year, Edwards attended Northwest-Shoals Community College in Muscle Shoals, Ala. He was unable to play in 2011 after he injured his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery. He would come back in 2012 and hit .325 with a .411 on-base percentage.
However, Edwards was hit with another setback when the state of Alabama cut Northwest-Shoals’ baseball program, leaving Edwards without a place to play.
The outfielder found a home at Central Alabama, playing a year before dealing with the Chiari malformation, which Edwards said was the biggest obstacle he had yet to face.
“The Tommy John surgery wasn’t really career ending. You see the pros have it done all the time and come back even better. I really wasn’t worried about that, but this one, it was a head injury,” Edwards said. “Facing 91, 92 miles per hour every day, you always have a chance to get hit. I think the head injury was tougher, just the mental part of it, standing in the [batter’s] box and tracking pitches.”
Edwards has worked diligently to return to the field, working on his swing and undergoing rehabilitation at Advance Rehab of Adairsville with Shannon Loy.
“I’ve rehabbed a lot of kids, but that kid is the hardest working kid I’ve seen,” Loy said of Edwards. “He comes in here, never misses a session. I’m so proud of him. It doesn’t surprise me to see him back playing.”
“I’m in the best shape of my life. I started jogging about three months out of surgery. It took me up until probably about two months ago to get back to 100 percent,” Edwards said. “I hit every day. I feel better than I ever have up at the plate. I’m just ready to go compete again.
“I couldn’t have done it without Shannon. He pushed me as far as I could go. He motivated me to get back and play.”
Edwards’ experience has given him a new perspective on the game. After believing he would never play again, Edwards is grateful to have another chance to add a second ring to his collection.
“I cant wait. I never thought I would wish the summer would be over so fast, but I’m counting down the days for this one to be. I’m just trying to go up there and help the team win. It’s not about me, it’s about helping the team,” he said. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He gave me an opportunity to play for a national championship and to win. Now I’m able to overcome and have a chance to play again. I’m probably the luckiest man in the world.”