Catching Up: Steve Sockolov of Rochester Big & Tall

by MR Magazine Staff

At first, Steve Sockolov refused to leave the ballgame. Even though he was bleeding from his nose and in terrible pain from a broken collar bone, he wanted to stay: San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds was sitting on 755 home runs, one away from a major league record.

Sockolov, a senior buyer for Rochester Big & Tall in San Francisco, had just been hit in the face and shoulders by a flying bat when batter Bengie Molina lost his grip on the back-swing at the Giants game versus the Washington Nationals Monday night last week.

“It was a right-hand batter, and we sit behind the third base dugout,” Sockolov explained when we reached him by phone the following week. “On the follow-through, he just lost his grip. In this case, he lost his bat on his back-swing, and it went pretty much almost behind him.” It flew past the screen as Sockolov, who like everyone else, was watching the ball. “It was a pop-up. Aren’t you supposed to watch the ball? And the next thing I knew, it was too late. It was right there. Two girls in front of me ducked – it would have hit one of them in the head. All of a sudden, just … crash. If I would have thrown my hands up I would have broken both my hands or my wrists or arms or whatever. But I just took it in my clavicle and my face. My nose was bleeding, my jaw was a little out of whack, but nothing got broken in my face.” Not even his glasses.

It could have been much worse. “I was sitting right next to my 76-year-old mother, and that would have been … not good,” Sockolov said, gravely.

Steve Sockolov, right, with his brother Bill at their father, Bob Sockolov’s retirement party this summer.

As it was, it was pretty bad, but not so bad that Sockolov didn’t argue with the paramedics a little when they tried to take him away from the game. “I told the paramedics, I said, ‘let’s wait a couple more innings.’ They said, ‘you’re crazy, we’re out of here. We’re getting you x-rays.’”

At the hospital, an x-ray confirmed what paramedics and the Giants trainer had suspected: the bat had broken his collar bone. The next day, Sockolov went to work, typing with one hand when he had to. And that night, he went back to the next Giants game. “If I’m well enough to go to a baseball game the next night, I definitely was well enough to go to work,” he said – he wasn’t about to miss Bonds’ next chance at the record, and he didn’t. However, “I was pretty medicated at that point,” he admits.

Three days after the incident, Sockolov got the chance to talk to the batter, Giants catcher Bengie Molina, at a team barbecue. During the game, Molina had come into the stands to see that Sockolov was okay, but he wanted to talk to him again, to apologize.

“My folks are investors in the Giants, so I was along for this annual barbecue. I spent several minutes with him. Poor kid. The sweetest kid, just the sweetest kid,” Sockolov told us. “Couldn’t have been more remorseful. He said he woke up at 2 o’clock in the morning the night before and couldn’t get back to sleep. And I was the one who ended up consoling him! I told him it was an accident, don’t worry about it.”

Now, a little more than a week afterward, Sockolov is off all medication and he’s beginning to type with two hands again. He’s proud to say he hasn’t missed a day of work. “Tell the vendors, don’t worry, your orders won’t be delayed because of this,” he said. “I’ll be looking forward to seeing everybody in Vegas. I’ll be able to personally tell my war stories in Vegas.”