Kelly: Six new hips keep CWS moving - Omaha.com
Published Friday, June 14, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:25 pm
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Kelly: Six new hips keep CWS moving

Hip-hip. . . . Hip-hip. . . . Hip-hip . . . HOORAY!

Count 'em, that's six hips — the total number of hip replacements among three top folks at the College World Series.

In baseball lingo, each pulled off a double play — both hips. And yes, all three are cheering the results.

“We all wish we had done it earlier,” said Dennis Poppe, 65, the top NCAA official at the series.

“I feel 20 years younger,” said Kathryn Morrissey, 57, executive director of CWS of Omaha Inc.

Public-address announcer Bill Jensen, 66, joked that he feels so much better with his new hips that he has to remind himself there are still limits.

“You have to be careful not to do certain things,” he said. “Like bungee-jumping and parachuting.”

They all can laugh now, which is a big difference from last year's College World Series, when each was hobbled. In their pain, they comforted each other by joking that they would run the bases at TD Ameritrade Park after their operations.

So on Wednesday, at a mostly empty stadium, they met at home plate and jointly headed down the first-base line.

OK, they didn't “run” the bases, but they made the circuit, celebrating the medical home run they felt they had hit.

A wag in the press box wrote in lights on the giant scoreboard: “The Bionic Hip Club.”

It's all so much better than last year, when the three did some consulting with each other to see how things were going.

The TD Ameritrade scoreboard said it all. BRYNN ANDERSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

“It was more like commiserating than consulting,” Denny said. “I had lived with pain for some time and thought it was part of the aches of aging.”

Kathryn said her pain worsened over seven years, and she rode around in a cart at last year's CWS. Bill said that for part of the 2012 series, he walked with a crutch.

Dennis, who lives in Indianapolis, had his surgeries in July and October. The Omahans had theirs locally by the same surgeon — Dr. Sam Phillips.

Cracked Bill: “We call him 'Sam the Butcher.'”

The term is playful, and in one sense it's not far off — Sam the Surgeon is the “pitmaster” for tonight's smoked-meat feast for players, coaches and other invitees.

This is the 13th year he and Phil Davidson of Omaha have headed a crew of about 25 volunteers who call themselves “Last Year's Champions.” They started smoking some of the meat at midnight.

“There's a lot of scrambling to cut up 1,500 pounds of meat,” the doc said, wryly adding: “Patients I've operated on come by, or those who might be considering surgery. It's probably not the best scenario to show my skill.”

The annual behind-the-scenes barbecue on the night of opening ceremonies at TD Ameritrade Park is only for the eight teams and invitees — part of Omaha's warm welcome to the universities whose ballclubs qualify for the national championship tournament.

MORE CWS COVERAGE
If it has to do with the College World Series, we're on it. Check out our CWS historical database, historical photos and our complete event coverage.

The doc's day job is as an orthopedic surgeon, and he noted that hip replacements have become “very common.”

Some reports estimate 332,000 per year in the U.S.

“People are living longer, they're a lot more active and the prevalence of arthritis is common,” Dr. Phillips said. “It's a reliable, predictable operation, and most patients do extremely well.”

Dennis Poppe wasn't doing well the past few years. His adult children told him he was walking like an old man. He noticed in a family photo that he stood slightly bent, which he realized was to take pressure off his no-cartilage, “bone-on-bone” hip sockets.

He had played four sports in high school and football in college, and he remained physically active for years. Plus, his family has a history of arthritis.

It got to the point that in getting into his SUV, he would use his arms to pull up the trailing leg.

Dr. Phillips, who said the conservative approach is to delay the procedure as long as possible, called hip-replacement surgery “a salvage operation.”

The three hipsters happily circling the bases together are grateful that their operations salvaged their health. And they are doing things they hadn't done for years.

OWH Columnists
Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.

“I go to the Y four or five times a week,” Bill said. “A half-hour on a treadmill, a half-hour on a stationary bike and upper-body work. I went biking with my wife for an hour and a half at DeSoto Bend.”

Poppe (pronounced “pope”) recalls all the pain pills he used to pop — 1,200 a year. Now, he said, “I've taken eight Tylenols since last October, and those weren't for my hips.”

Kathryn Morrissey said their trio is part of “the ninth team” at the College World Series, the many behind-the-scenes people who help things run well. It's a lot of work, and everyone needs to keep a fast pace.

“Last year we were kind of on the injured-reserve list,” she quipped. “I feel like I've got a new lease on life. It's amazing. I can't describe how different I feel.”

A new statistic in baseball — measuring how much better a major leaguer performs than a typical newcomer — is called Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.

These hipsters are no longer at war with their hips. And as for their successful surgeries?

Well, they can hardly imagine a win better than their replacements.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1132, michael.kelly@owh.com

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly

mike.kelly@owh.com    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
19-year-old arrested in connection with March shooting
Explosive device blows hole in windshield, damages another car
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
Keystone XL pipeline backers blast 'political expediency' as foes hail ruling to delay decision
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Nebraska senators to study tax issues over break
Portion of Saddle Creek Road closed after water main break
Teenager arrested after woman's purse is snatched outside Omaha store
Police identify 21-year-old shot in ankle near 30th, W Streets
Cult murderer's death row appeal denied, but execution in limbo
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Interstate construction to cause lane shifts, closings in Omaha area
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
Friday's attendance dips at Millard West after bathroom threat
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »