GameBoy Wrist, Ointment Fumes, and Coyote Bites: A Compendium of Atheletes' Obscure Injuries

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76ers center Andrew Bynum, who injured his knee while bowling, is only the most recent example of athletes hurting themselves in less-than-glorious ways.

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Andrew Bynum in 2011 (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

According to an ESPN report from Brian Windhorst and Chris Broussard, Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum aggravated his knee injury while bowling. This might not make Bynum feel any better, but he's hardly the first athlete to sustain a weird injury. Here are a few highlights from the injury reports of days gone by.

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  • Sacramento Kings small forward Lionel Simmons missed two games in his rookie season (1991) because he had tendonitis in his right wrist and forearm from playing too much GameBoy.

  • In 1994, journeyman knuckleballer Steve Sparks missed out on a chance to make his first big-league roster when he dislocated his shoulder during spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers. He tried to rip a phone book while imitating a group of motivational speakers who had visited the team.

  • NHL goalie Glenn Healy enjoyed a long career, and he also enjoyed playing the bagpipes. While playing for the Maple Leafs in 2000, Healy needed stitches after slicing himself while repairing an antique set of pipes.

  • Hall of Fame offensive tackle Turk Edwards suffered a career-ending injury in 1940 during the pregame coin toss. When Edwards turned to return to the Washington Redskins' sideline, he caught his cleats on the turf, which wrecked his fragile knee and forced him into retirement.
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  • Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs once missed seven games after straining his back while trying to pull on his trademark cowboy boots. (In all fairness, it's probably tough with all of that chicken grease on your fingers.) 

  • After scoring a goal in 2004, Servette midfielder Paulo Diogo decided to celebrate by jumping into the crowd. His wedding ring had other plans, though, and caught on a fence. The force ripped off the top of Diogo's finger, and to add insult to injury, the refs booked him for excessive celebration. 

  • Actually, it might just be a good idea to take off all of your rings when you hit the field or court. Atlanta Braves closer Cecil Upshaw missed the entire 1970 season when his ring got caught on an awning as he tried to demonstrate his slam dunk technique. 

  • Boston Red Sox pitcher Clarence Blethen didn't have a long career, but he did have a fine set of false teeth. According to legend, Blethen liked to carry his false teeth in his back pocket when he played, which was a decent enough plan until he had to make a takeout slide at second to break up a double play during the 1923 season. When Blethen slid, his false chompers supposedly bit him on the rear, which led to a bloody mess that forced him out of the game. 

  • Point guard Muggsy Bogues once missed the second half of a game after he became dizzy from inhaling ointment fumes while receiving treatment for a sore muscle at halftime. 

  • At some point during the 1975 or 1976 season, Mets reliever Ken Sanders had so much trouble seeing through the glare coming off of a glass partition behind home plate at Shea Stadium, he didn't realize his catcher had tossed the ball back to him. The ball conked Sanders right in the face, breaking his nose and cheek. 

  • Journeyman reliever Greg A. Harris once missed two starts for the Rangers after he inflamed his elbow by spending an entire game flicking sunflower seeds at a friend who was sitting nearby. 

  • One more reason to pay attention to your pharmacist: Brazilian soccer star Ramalho once missed three days of action because he was bedridden after taking a suppository orally. 

  • Norwegian defender Svein Grondalen went for a jog as part of his training for an international match during the 1970s ... and ran headlong into a moose. The injury forced him to withdraw from the match. 

  • Atlanta first baseman Ryan Klesko missed several games in 1999 after straining his back while picking up his lunch tray. 

  • Pitcher Tom Glavine suffered from food poisoning during the 1992 season; his symptoms were so bad that he broke a rib while vomiting.
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  • Chicago Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal missed a game in 1974 because his eyelid was "stuck open," which prevented him from blinking. Although he eventually overcame this ailment, it didn't help Cardenal's reputation as a player who liked to use suspicious injuries to get out of games; two seasons earlier he had missed a game because crickets in his hotel room had kept him up all night, leaving him exhausted. 

  • Pitching great Nolan Ryan once missed a start after he was allegedly bitten by a coyote. 

  • In May 2002 Baltimore Orioles left fielder Marty Cordova fell asleep in a tanning bed and got a wicked sunburn on his face. His doctor ordered him to stay out of direct sunlight, which meant Cordova had to hide out in the clubhouse during day games until his face healed. 

  • Stuttgart Kickers soccer player Sascha Bender once suffered a facial injury after being punched. The assailant, teammate Christian Okpala, said Bender "permanently provoked me by farting all the time."


  • A version of this post originally appeared on Mental Floss, an Atlantic partner site.

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