Mark Haley, manager of the South Bend Silver Hawks
and a fixture in the local community, has been hospitalized with a serious illness.
Haley, 52, was admitted to South Bend Memorial Hospital on Dec. 24 after experiencing urinary tract and abdominal pain. Initially it was thought that this pain was related to back surgery that Haley had undergone earlier that week, but further testing revealed a ruptured bowel. He underwent surgery Dec. 29 to remove a portion of his bowel and is currently in the intensive care unit as he begins the long road to recovery.
News of this nature would impact any Minor League community, and this is especially the case when it comes to Haley and the Silver Hawks (the Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). Haley has piloted the team since 2005, and lives in South Bend with his wife, Ann, and their two children. The veteran manager has amassed nearly 500 victories with the Silver Hawks, has twice been named Midwest League Manager of the Year, and in 2010 had his number 51 retired by the team as part of an extensive "Mark Haley Night" tribute.
"We're keeping [Haley] in our thoughts and prayers. He's a strong, tough man and we expect a full recovery," said Silver Hawks general manager Lynn Kachmarik. "South Bend is his home, and he's highly respected throughout the community. We're getting so many calls and messages from people wanting to wish him well."
The Silver Hawks are asking Haley's well-wishers to visit his personal page at CaringBridge.org, a non-profit website dedicated to "connecting family and friends when health matters most." Haley's page is maintained by his wife, Ann, who is now regularly providing updates via a daily journal.
"Ann is a nurse and just as strong as Mark, and she made sure to get him to the right place [South Bend Memorial's trauma center]," said Kachmarik. "We encourage everyone to visit [CaringBridge] to read up on how he's doing and post messages of support."
Haley's setback occurred just months after a significant career highlight. In September, he was called up to the parent Diamondbacks to serve as coach and advance scout. Although his professional baseball career is now in its third decade, this marked his first stint in the Major Leagues.
"I've worked with about 75 or 80 percent of the guys on the Diamondbacks roster," Haley told the South Bend Tribune upon receiving the call-up. "That makes it easy for me to relate to those guys."
These home-grown products of the Diamondbacks system, along with Haley's vast legions of South Bend-based friends and admirers, will certainly be offering their support in the coming weeks and months.
"[Haley's] an absolute class act, and a gift of a coach," said Kachmarik. "I can't imagine how many people are praying for him right now."