Jamie Green had finally made it to Twins fantasy camp.
Green, from Mounds View, wanted to attend in 2021 but COVID canceled the event. He was ready to go last year but caught COVID the day before he was scheduled to leave. Even this year, he slipped on the ice a few weeks ago, injuring his wrist and tailbone and leading to doubts he could play. His brother, John, a fantasy camp veteran, urged him to attend and let Twins trainers check him out.
So Jamie made the trip to Fort Myers, Fla., had his wrist taped up and was ready to play.
He didn't know his life would soon be in danger.
“He was basically dead. I watched him take his last breath and his eyes rolled back in his head. They pushed me out of the way and started CPR right away. I couldn't watch. The rest is what other people have told me.”
Green was on the field for the first official game of fantasy camp, playing alongside Kirby Puckett Jr. in the outfield. While jogging in from the outfield before the second inning, John looked at him and said, "You're batting fifth, grab a helmet."
"And that's the last thing I remember," said Jamie Green, 61 and a former owner of the popular St. Paul Bagelry.
John, his younger brother by two years, takes it from here.
"He was following me in the lineup, and I had just gotten on base," John Green said. "He swung at the first pitch and actually [fouled] it. He checked swung at the next pitch. The third pitch was a hard check swing. The umpire called it a strike and Jamie backed out and it looked to me like he kind of laughed a little bit.
"And then he went down."
Green was hit with "The Widowmaker" heart attack, which happens when the left anterior descending artery — the heart's largest artery — is blocked. According to the American Heart Association, the survival rate is 12% if such an attack occurs outside of a hospital. It's the same heart attack Hall of Famer and former Twin Rod Carew suffered in 2015, leading to him having a left ventricular assist device implanted near his heart.
The Widowmaker visited Green on Jan. 9, exactly one week after Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a nationally televised game. There were only about 25 spectators on hand for Green's game but the two had one thing in common: They could not have been in a better place to receive care.
Medical professionals quickly assisted Hamlin when he went down. Green might have had just as an impressive group of responders who converged on home plate.
Two doctors, both members of other fantasy camp teams, reached Green within seconds. Dr. Barry Karon, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Mark Brooks were joined by Dr. Brooks' wife, Susan, a nurse certified in CPR. Twins trainer Asja Morello arrived with a defibrillator. And even grounds crew member Aaron Egan, a former EMS worker, helped with CPR.
"He was basically dead," John Green said. "I watched him take his last breath and his eyes rolled back in his head. They pushed me out of the way and started CPR right away. I couldn't watch. The rest is what other people have told me."
The defibrillator was needed to restart Green's heart. Paramedics arrived and transported him to Gulf Coast Medical Center. John Green rode in the ambulance and spoke to Jamie, who was alert while being wheeled into the hospital.
"I said, 'Hey Jamie, I'm here,' " John Green said. "Jamie looks over at me and said, 'I'm sorry I'm ruining your trip.' It was kind of a comical moment."
Jamie had two blocked arteries, one 100% blocked and the other 98%. He suffered broken ribs from the CPR, which can happen, and internal bleeding. He was not released until Jan. 26. During that time, he was visited by his three sons, his brother Tim, Bert Blyleven and his wife, Gail, and Frank Viola.
"It was great to sit and talk to Bert," Green said. "A couple times he made me laugh and I had to hold my chest and I said, 'you have to stop, you're making me laugh, Bert.' And Frankie V. came in another night and did the same thing. I said, 'you guys have got to quit making me laugh.' "
The other campers were willing to play out the remainder of the week's games, but some were shaken by the incident.
"That's the first time something like that has happened at fantasy camp under (coordinator) Stan Dickman," Blyleven said. "We were very, very lucky that all of the doctors who participate in fantasy camp are there. It saved his life."
The Greens remain in the area, as they rented a place in Cape Coral through the end of February. That has allowed Jamie to begin rehabilitation work, like going for walks and undergoing breathing exercises.
A devout Christian, Jamie begins his days with prayers and devotionals. He believes there's a reason for everything, and that he was part of God's plan for that day.
"I was an instrument being used for His purpose," Green said, "so people could see His healing and saving power. It's all about Him, and that's the one thing I want to point out."