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Center Fielder, 7, Plays On Despite a Difficult Handicap and Long Odds

Associated Press

Last October, outfielder Krissy Garcia lost her left arm and shoulder to cancer.

This summer, the pony-tailed, gum-chomping 7-year-old from Union City is starring in center field for the Riders of the San Lorenzo American Little League tee-ball circuit.

Check her out. Here’s a scouting report. Krissy’s throwing: strong. Fielding: a deft, reliable act of catching, dropping the glove, picking up the ball and throwing it. Offense: no mush in Krissy’s bat. She’s batting .450--average for a tee-baller--with two triples.

Overall, “she plays better ball than most of the kids with both arms,” marvels league president Kathy Doell.

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“She doesn’t give ground and she doesn’t ask favors,” says Coach Jim Sherman.

None indeed. Krissy tells players who hold back to “throw it hard” at her. She prefers playing center field because “you get more balls.”

Last fall, doctors diagnosing a broken bone in her shoulder discovered osteogenic sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that most often strikes boys between the ages of 9 and 19 in the knee.

James Johnston, the chief of orthopedics at Kaiser Medical Center in Oakland and Krissy’s doctor, says it is “quite unusual” for a young girl to get osteogenic sarcoma, particularly in the upper body.

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But Krissy got it. Her survival required the amputation of her left arm and shoulder.

Given the recurrence rate of cancer in other cases, Krissy’s chances of living more than two years are not good, Johnston believes. Karen Torres, Krissy’s mother, puts her daughter’s chances at 1 in 20.

But, said Karen Torres: “I believe she’s that one.”

Once every three months, John Torres, Krissy’s stepfather, takes her back to Kaiser in Oakland for chest X-rays. Every day, she slips into a custom-built lightweight shoulder pad that protects her ribs and fills out her clothing.

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Her stepfather’s co-workers at American Telephone & Telegraph in San Leandro raised $2,000 for Krissy through bake sales and donations. Her mother says $500 went to pay off bills. The rest went into a savings account in Krissy’s name.


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