“My third question was ‘Will I be able to umpire again?’, “ said Kuegel. “The night before I was wondering if it’d be possible.
“He laughed and said, yes, after six weeks recovery time, if I went into it gradually.”
That put a smile on Kuegel’s face and gave him some incentive as he began more than a month of rather boring recovery at home, taking new medicines, resting and — with walking his main activity — gradually building up his strength.
Finally, the six weeks were up and he went to Amesbury to work the plate for a two-man Babe Ruth League game.
“It was literally the last day of the sixth week,” said Kuegel. “I was chomping at the bit to get out there, but I was also very nervous about it.
“I was thinking of bringing my wife (Lori) to the game in case something happened. But I decided against it and besides getting a little tired, everything went fine.
“Once I got through that first game, I felt my recovery was complete and I was really happy I had no problems.”
Now, other than taking five different medications perhaps for the rest of his life and periodic checkups, Kuegel is pretty much back to where he started, both with his coaching and — thank goodness — umpiring.
“I like coaching my son, and I like coaching, but I like umpiring more,” said Kuegel. “I like being involved with the kids and there’s something about being out there that I love.”
Whatever the preference, there are just a lot of people in Salem that are happy that Kuegel is back.