Katie Selden | Kalamazoo GazetteGalesburg-Augusta junior Kyle Mallwitz sports a black eye during a photo taken last week near the Rams’ baseball field. Mallwitz broke his nose in three places during a may 17 game, among a string of injuries the three-sport athlete has suffered since his eighth-grade year.
GALESBURG – at this rate, Galesburg-Augusta junior Kyle Mallwitz may be best suited if he reported directly to the library after school each day.
The 3.4 student may be better off avoiding athletic fields and courts at all costs. Baseball fields have been especially treacherous for the 17-year-old, who was nicknamed “Bamm-Bamm” at a young age.
“It’s like my mother-in-law says, ‘Maybe you ought to take up a different game like tiddlywinks or something,’” Kyle’s father, Tony Mallwitz, said with a laugh.
Injury-prone does not even begin to describe the 6-foot, 190-pound three-sport standout’s plight. it started the summer between his eighth- and ninth-grade years with a gruesome nose injury during a baseball game and continued with the most recent doozy. in between have been two anterior-cruciate ligament knee injuries, broken left pinky, fractured right wrist and a line-drive ball to the jaw.
Less than two weeks ago, Mallwitz broke his nose in three places and cracked the orbital bone near his left eye when he misplayed a tough foul ball near the dugout fence at G-A’s field and the baseball found his face yet again. the injury required plastic surgery, which he underwent successfully on Friday, and is forcing him to miss the Rams’ Division 3 pre-district game against Parchment Tuesday at Comstock.
If G-A (18-14) pulls the upset of the eighth-ranked Panthers (28-7), which set a school record for wins, then Mallwitz may be available for Saturday’s district semifinal against no. 7 Hackett Catholic Central (22-8).
“I’m pretty sure I’m cursed,” Mallwitz said with a wry smile.
Rams baseball coach Chip Paddock suggested his star player take the field shielded in bubble wrap.
“the kid just can’t catch a break,” Paddock said about Mallwitz, a right-hander with a 6-3 record and ERA in low 2.00s, and no. 3 batter hitting nearly .390.
Mallwitz has caught plenty of breaks – just not too many good ones.
“A couple weeks ago at Maple Valley (on may 8), he took a line drive off the jaw,” Paddock said. “He was pitching and the first batter of the game hit one right off his jaw.
“ … He’s had a rough year.”
Mallwitz stayed in the game and turned in one of his better performances of the season. He allowed only three hits, struck out 13 and walked two in a complete-game 2-1 win.
“I chipped a tooth out. I got down in the fetal position and I spit the tooth out,” Mallwitz said. “I stood up, looked around a minute, got back on the mound and started pitching again. … I separated my jaw from the joint or whatever – just a tad bit. (The jaw) just came back (into joint) on its own. got lucky there.”
His first nose injury, playing summer ball for the Kalamazoo Maroons prior to his freshman year, resulted when he swung the bat during a game under the lights and the ball deflected into his face. His nose was not broken, but “peeled back” and had to be put together with stitches and super glue. later that summer, playing for a G-A team, he stole second base, turned to look back toward home plate and the ball hit him in the face again.
“I stood up, pool of blood all over second base,” he said.
During his freshman year on the G-A varsity football team, Mallwitz broke his pinky making a tackle. the finger still arcs from the injury. later that year, during his freshman basketball season, he tore the ACL in his right knee and missed about six months of sports.
Late last summer with the Maroons, he fractured the ulna bone in his right wrist while ducking out of the way of a pitch bound for his head. once he was cleared from the wrist injury and ready to join the G-A football team, the quarterback tore the ACL in left knee and did not return to athletics until the end of basketball season.
Josh Mauser | Kalamazoo GazetteKyle Mallwitz watches the Greater Kalamazoo Gold Division baseball finals Saturday at WMU’s Robert J. Bobb Stadium, one day after undergoing plastic surgery on his injured nose.
His most recent injury occurred when he was playing first base and trying to catch a high pop-up in foul territory.
“I’m looking up, I’m running pretty fast,” he recalled. “I look (toward the dugout fence) and when I look up, ‘Boom!’ I was on the fence with my left shoulder and I just dropped down.”
Mallwitz spent the rest of the night in the hospital before being released in the wee hours of the next morning. A few days later, he was back on the field. and, well, you know what comes next …
“I’m playing against Allegan and I get up there (at the plate), first time. second pitch comes straight for my eyes,” he said. “(He turned his face away from the pitch) and it hits me right in the back of the neck.”
The obvious question: why does Mallwitz continue to risk his health playing sports? Cynical answer: He’s a glutton for punishment. True answer: He wants to play sports in college, particularly baseball, as he plays about 100 games per year between G-A and the Maroons.
“He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached, mentally and physically,” Paddock said. “ … He’s matured a lot in the past year. I mean, he’s come a long way. by far, the mental toughness of the kid, it’s just crazy. He’s tough.”
Which area baseball team has the best shot to make a state finals run?
Email Scott DeCamp at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ScottDeCamp.