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General | General | 4/12/2021

Crisis Averted as PG Umpires Act Quick

Perfect Game Staff        
Photo: Perfect Game
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The rain and gloom that cancelled Saturday’s games during Week 3 of the Iowa Spring League at Prospect Meadows seemed to be a foreshadowing of the events that transpired on Sunday. Before the 9 a.m. games even got started on a damp morning in Marion, Iowa, a serious medical situation took place in the umpire locker room that resulted in a near-death scare, leaving everyone feeling concerned.

As one of Perfect Game’s umpires, Al Gruwell of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was getting dressed for his first game, he mentioned to his colleagues that he wasn’t feeling well, complaining of pressure in his chest. It's something that often times goes unnoticed, but thankfully, a fellow umpire, Dan Kopriva of Traer, Iowa, knew it was not an issue to take lightly. Shortly after hearing of his partner’s ailment, Kopriva called 9-1-1, and the first responders headed to Prospect Meadows. Not long after the call was made, it became clear that Gruwell was actively having a heart attack.

The first responders arrived swiftly, hooking him up to an EKG unit and attaching an oxygen mask in hopes of measuring the rhythm of his heart and getting oxygen to his brain. Gruwell was unresponsive to any questions, and he was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital in nearby Cedar Rapids. When he arrived, the doctors at St. Luke’s were able place two stents in his blood vessels, bringing a more normal flow of blood to his heart.

The doctors mentioned that if that fellow umpire hadn’t called 9-1-1 when he did, a much graver result would have occurred. In a strange way, it’s almost a good thing that this happened at the ballpark, because if it would have happened while he was driving or sleeping, for example, no one would have been around to help. Gruwell will need surgery within the next few weeks to remove blockage from his arteries, but Perfect Game has received word that he is doing well, despite the conditions.

"We are so glad that this actually happened at the complex rather than elsewhere," Perfect Game President and Founder Jerry Ford said. "Everyone is thankful that Dan Kopriva understood his partner was in trouble and made the call. PG umpires are the best. We wish Al a quick and complete recovery."

Umpires are extremely valued and an indispensable asset to all of us at Perfect Game, which made this event all the more troubling. Needless to say, we are thankful for the actions of Kopriva, the first responders, and the doctors, and we wish Gruwell a speedy recovery and continued health. Although umpires take a lot of heat for the calls they make, we can say with complete certainty that Kopriva choosing to call 9-1-1 was the best call made all day.
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