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Tingler family, Little Leaguers rally for dad

By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Tri City Little League manager Tony Tingler never saw it coming. About five months ago, the Rocklin dad and baseball fanatic was packing up after a vacation in Lake Tahoe. Little League was in full swing. Coming home to Rocklin meant a glorious return to the All-Star season. He’d also be reunited with the boys of his AA Red Sox Tri City Little League team including son Luke, 9, and a core group of kids Tingler had coached for five seasons. Tony’s wife, Manndie Tingler, AA Red Sox team mom and TCLL board member, also helped coach the boys of summer. With 24 years of fast pitch softball under her belt, how could she resist? And 3-year-old Cooper, the youngest Tingler, was the most dedicated Red Sox fan by far. “Go Dad go!” he’d yell with enthusiasm. Summer was the season the Tinglers lived for. But last July Tony, the dad who loved to throw a ball with his boys, found out baseball season had something else in store. It hit him hard. Tony had just taken a break after packing up from his Tahoe holiday and took a sip of soda. The carbonation caused a choking sensation in his throat and with the thin Tahoe air, Tony passed out and fell backwards onto concrete. “I must have been out cold 15 to 20 seconds,” he remembered. “I got up and tried to walk it off, but the pain was incredible.” The fall jolted Tony’s brain so dramatically that his frontal lobes started hemorrhaging. His wife Manndie said it was the scariest moment of her life. “It looked like someone cut open the back of Tony’s scalp, shoved a baseball in, and sewed it back up,” said Manndie. “I was terrified. I saw tears rolling down his cheeks because he was just in agony.” A CT scan revealed Tony’s fall caused subdural hematoma or bleeding between the brain and its outer membrane. Pressure and bruising left Tony with damaged facial nerve receptors affecting his tolerance for noise and movement. Doctors said Tony’s recovery depended on round-the-clock care and extensive therapy. Reality quickly set in. “You go from being relied upon to suddenly you’re not there anymore,” Tony said. “Everything changed.” Tony spent five months away from work. Manndie put her job on hold to take care of Tony. Suddenly the Tinglers forgot about baseball. What they didn’t know was Tri City Little League would never forget about the Tinglers. “The board members signed up one family every night to bring us dinner,” Manndie said. “They helped me take care of everybody. Little things like my lawn getting mowed. They gave us gift certificates to buy groceries. It was that constant checking in with us that pulled us through.” TCLL board member Paul Dunkhase said he watched Tony recover. “Seeing the kids jump to support Tony during his time of need says everything you need to know about how he manages his team,” he said. Tony said he remembered feeling like he was going to be okay. “I kept thinking, let’s keep on rolling,” he said. “I knew I was getting better and having our little league family support us like that just shows what a great community we live in.” AA Red Sox player, Connor Merkle, 11, was happy to learn his manager is returning for opening day. “I’m like, wow, that’s great he’s recovered,” Merkle said. “He is a great teacher and I’ve learned a whole bunch from him.” Tony’s son Luke said he is ready for Dad to get back on the field. “It’s just cool to have your dad as the manager because you know what’s going to happen first,” Luke said. Tony said he is grateful for his health and his friends. “I’ve always tried to be a role model for my boys and give back to the community and there’s a lot to be said of the people who watched over my family these last months.” The Tri City Little League family will celebrate its 50th anniversary on opening day, March 13, 2010.