Rod Beaton

Rod Beaton, USA Today‘s insanely excellent baseball writer from 1986 through the early 2000s, is—tragically—nearing the end of his life.

Received this message today, on Facebook, from his wife, Maria:

Jeff, Maria Beaton here. Wonder if you can go Rod a favor …

Rod Beaton’s battery has ceased to operate and now Rod has a few days or weeks left. Please go to his facebook page for more information and pass it along for me? Thanks.

I wrote this piece on Rod toward the end of 2009. He’s only 58, but is battling—among other things—Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia, an incurable form of dementia characterized anatomically by the presence of clumps of alpha-synuclein and ubiquitin protein in neurons, detectavle in postmortem brain biopsies. As I wrote in the column, Rod has undergone three brain surgeries, myriad setbacks (In 2006, his pacemaker had to be removed after an infection) and precious few positive moments.

Now, according to Maria, his struggle is almost over. As she wrote on Facebook today:

Rod’s battery for his pacemaker has just ceased to operate. His device is still on but it is now a matter of days or hours before the device no longer works. Already Rod experienced severe Parkinson’s symptoms and the staff at the nursing home and Hospice immediately swung into action. He is OK for now, the cramps w…ent away after ten bad minutes, but they will return.

And …

We are in new territory. As I learn about what to expect in the next few weeks that Rod has left, I will post it here. Anyone can visit, no permissions needed, no advance notice of any kind. I do not know how much time is left. But it is not much more. When the device dies, Rod’s Parkinson’s will return with a ven…geance and we will aggressively tackle the pain, but this may rob him of his personality, so we are trying to go as slowly as we can without causing him any pain.

I promised Maria I would spread the word—hence, this post. Rod is a good man—warm, compassionate. As a baseball writer, he was always willing to offer support or a helpful word. There were few better. There are few better.

God speed.

PS: Here’s an index of much of Rod’s work.

PPS: has kept a regular update on Rod.