Nova Scotia

Sydney Sooners dedicate home opener to catcher who suffered heart attack

The Sydney Sooners of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League played their home opener Friday night without their catcher, Sean Ferguson, who suffered a heart attack earlier this month while playing pickup basketball.

23-year-old Sean Ferguson is waiting for a pacemaker

Sydney Sooners catcher Sean Ferguson, 23, suffered a heart attack earlier this month while playing pickup basketball with some of his teammates. He is in hospital in Halifax waiting for a pacemaker. (CBC)

The Sydney Sooners of the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League played their home opener Friday night without their catcher.

The game was dedicated to Sean Ferguson, 23, who suffered a heart attack earlier this month while playing pickup basketball with some of his teammates at the field house at Cape Breton University.

Ferguson is now in a Halifax hospital, waiting for a pacemaker.

But the fact he's alive at all is due to the quick thinking and swift action of some of his buddies.

'He just kind of went down'

"Something wasn't feeling right. He had a look in his eyes that something wasn't feeling right, and he just kind of went down," recalled Kenny Long. 

Ferguson has a reputation as a jokester, and at first Long thought he was pulling a prank.

"He wasn't really responding, so I said, 'Ferg, if you don't answer me, I'm going to call 911.' Once he didn't answer, it was just 911 and went from there."

Into action

With his friend on the ground, Long says the first feeling was panic, but the teammates quickly shook that off.

"The next thing was, 'We gotta do what we gotta do to keep our friend going 'til the paramedics get here,'" said Long.

"Basically, I was talking to 911; they were great. They led us through all the steps."

The 911 operator asked if there was defibrillator in the field house. One of the men, Taylor Slade, ran for one in the nearby hockey rink.

When he got back, another man was administering CPR.

'This is very real'

"I plugged in the defibrillator and put the pads on Sean. It was so scary. I literally don't wish it on my worst enemy," Slade said.

Even then, Slade says, he didn't realize how perilous Ferguson's condition was.

"As the defibrillator shocked him, and he did not wake up, he did not respond, he was having trouble breathing, I realized this is very real and ... terrified, I was terrified."

Long remembers "it all happened in about 10 minutes and it felt like two hours." 

Ferguson rebounds

The anxious men followed the ambulance to hospital.

Ferguson's condition was touch-and-go for the first few days he was in the hospital, but he has rebounded, with his friends reporting he's back to his old, cheerful, talkative self.

Slade says Ferguson has asked how he can repay them for saving him.

"I said , 'Sean, you waking up is definitely payment enough.'"

Ferguson is getting married this summer; those plans have not changed.

But his baseball buddies won't be there.

"We actually have baseball that weekend," laughed Long. "So, we're going to make the reception, hopefully."

With files from Gary Mansfield