Meet the Crotch Doc
Dr. William Meyers is medicine’s most prominent expert on core injuries, and some of the top groins in sports owe it all to his surgical handiwork
Roy Oswalt tried to gut it out — literally. In 2003, Oswalt was in his third year as a starting pitcher for the Houston Astros. He was a rising star but had developed a mysterious injury: Whenever he threw, Oswalt felt a sharp, sudden pain in his groin. “It was like someone had stabbed you,” he recalls. And the pain moved around, from his pubic area down to his inner thighs or up to his gut.
A pitcher creates a burst of kinetic energy by pushing off his dominant leg and taking a long stride forward as he throws the ball. When we say a pitcher has a strong arm, we really mean he has a powerful core and legs. Unable to stride powerfully, Oswalt was reduced to mediocrity.
One day, before a game, Mike Hampton, who pitched for the Atlanta Braves, told Oswalt about a medical warlock, a miracle worker, a veritable exorcist of groin pain: Dr. William Meyers, a surgeon in Philadelphia who’d fixed the same debilitating problem for Hampton. In June, while pitching against the Yankees in New York, Oswalt left in anguish after only an inning. The next day, he went to Philly and saw Meyers, who, in his calm, avuncular manner, told Oswalt that he’d need surgery if he ever hoped to recover from the injury.
Oswalt, the stubborn son of a Mississippi logger, rested for a few weeks, loaded up on anti-inflammatories, felt better, and pitched again. The pain returned. In one game, Oswalt gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher — a mark of ignominy — and was yanked from the game by a worried manager in the third inning.
After the season ended, Oswalt went back to Meyers, knowing that if he didn’t fix the injury, his career was over. When Oswalt woke up in the recovery room on the morning of the surgery, he was surprised to see, sitting next to him, Cliff Lee, a young Indians pitcher whose season had also been cut short by a groin injury.
If you want a statistical measure of Meyers’ surgical genius, you could start with the success Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee had in the years after their surgeries. Lee made four all-star games and won a Cy Young…