Ed Kuegel is back on the diamond, helping coach two baseball teams and serving as one of the better umpires in the Merrimack Valley.
Kuegel, 50, is as close to being a Mr. Baseball in Salem, N.H., as you’re going to find. In addition to his coaching and umpiring duties, he assigns umpires for all games played in Salem and is heavily involved in the many tournaments that take place there.
In Salem baseball, he’d be a tough guy to replace but, at about 7:31 p.m. on April 29, he was struck by an apparent heart attack which put all of his contributions in jeopardy.
As a coach for the AAU 13-year-old Team New England squad, which includes his son Riley, Kuegel was suddenly in pain as he began practice.
“They said it was more a blockage than a heart attack, but I had all the symptoms of a heart attack,” said Kuegel. “There are four symptoms — nausea, sweats, pain in the arm and pressure in the chest — and they were all there for me in 30 seconds.
“I knew it was bad. And I was scared to death.”
Thankfully, quick thinking by assistant coach Bryan Kerman and— once he got to Holy Family Hospital — immediate emergency treatment stabilized Kuegel.
Then, in less time than it takes the Red Sox to play three innings, a team of cardiologists performed surgery, clearing the blockage to his heart and entering a stint to help prevent a recurrence.
“I can’t say enough about how great everyone was at the hospital,” said Kuegel. “I don’t know what would have happened, if I’d even be here, if I had gotten there any later.”
By the next morning, after surgery, Kuegel was already feeling better, but he had some questions for his cardiologist.