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Baseball: Diagnosis for Dave Barnett is 'complicated migraine'

Profile image for By Barry Horn / Dallas Morning News
By Barry Horn / Dallas Morning News

One week after the 15 seconds that made Dave Barnett part of the national conversation, the Rangers television broadcaster says he has no memory of the incident.

“Surreal,” he said Monday afternoon, is the best way to describe the blip in a stellar 31 years of calling play-by-play.

It happened in the eighth inning of the Rangers late-night victory over the San Diego Padres on June 18.  As pitching coach Mike Maddux wrapped up a mound visit with reliever Mike Adams, Barnett’s words wandered off.

“Go ahead run is at fifth (pause) on what Adams is insisting on calling it a botched robbery,” Barnett said. “What actually happened was his henchmen took piece literally out of...”

Then he trailed off before he stopped talking.

And then, just like that, he returned to form to finish the game.

They noticed the gaffe in the Rangers production truck but they did not, as has been reported in some precincts, turn off Barnett’s microphone.

His cadence was routine. His voice was strong. The producer believed his play-by-play broadcaster was about to make a point. “They just thought I was going about it in a weird way,” Barnett said.

After the game, Barnett and partner Tom Grieve walked back to the Rangers’ San Diego hotel. Barnett said he went to bed.

It wasn’t until his wife, Kim, called the next morning that Barnett knew anything was wrong.

“She warned me I had caused a firestorm,” Barnett said. “I had to be filled in on what she was talking about.”

Minutes later, it smacked him in the face. As he flipped channels in his hotel room, he settled on “Good Morning America.” In a matter of minutes, he was watching George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts talking about him. They then called on a a correspondent in the field who had talked to an expert on migraine headaches. The cable news and gossip shows were already on board. The YouTube videos were inevitable.

The Rangers sent Barnett, 54, back home to Denton for tests. He has not worked since.

Barnett reported he has undergone a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test, a MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) and an EEG (electroencephalogram) to study what makes him tick.

The preliminary diagnosis, he said, is “a complicated migraine.”

“There is a kink in the hose,” was his layman’s explanation.

The Rangers say they are awaiting a complete diagnosis before determining Barnett’s future.

Sitting at home on Friday, Barnett marked the sixth anniversary of a bicycle accident that left him unconscious for nine hours. A hit-and-run driver knocked him down and out as he rode around his neighborhood. He suffered a major concussion as the discs in his back crumbled.

More recently, hobbled on a broken ankle in December, he slipped and fell. Again he banged his head.

Barnett said the doctors have told him that his 15 seconds were not related to those previous accidents.

“But my head certainly has been through it,” he said.

He laughed. He might have cried. Who could have blamed him?