By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Courtesy: Corey Leach
Courtesy: Corey Leach
JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -
It's been a rough couple of weeks for a Kansas City soldier critically injured in Afghanistan on Sept. 16. But the soldier's recovery begins on a Johnson County, KS, ball field.
The 3&2 ball park is a long way from Afghanistan, but it's where Kansas City native and Army Pfc. Corey Leach made his name as an umpire.
"Corey is what's right about young America," said 3&2 umpire Mike Holmes.
It was his transition into a soldier that made Leach a hero. After years of calling little league games he joined the military and, on his first mission to Afghanistan, was nearly killed by a roadside bomb.
"The next thing I know the IED went off, I saw one of the guys down and ran to try to get some help, but I found out my windpipe was cut and I couldn't talk," Leach said.
It was only later that Leach realized he was blind in one eye, his stomach was ripped open and he had a collapsed lung. Crews worked frantically to save him.
When the news got back to his fellow umpires in Johnson County, they sprung to action.
Leach meant so much to 3&2 baseball that every umpire out here is wearing a sticker, promoting his Facebook page. The page is called Carey Safe at Home, it was put together by the umpires coming together to help raise money for his family during his recovery.
"He's going to be in rehab for a long time," Holmes said. "We're just trying to help them defray their costs."
While surgeries continue to keep Leach in a San Antonio hospital, he said he can't thank his umpire friends enough.
"It means the world to me and my family and I do appreciate it a bunch," he said.
The umpires said Leach will always be safe at home with them.
Leach said when he gets out of the Army he hopes to return to college and someday be an umpire again.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:02:03 GMT
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