Bulls' skipper all smiles after 5-year-old son's successful surgery

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 08:36 PM

Traveling to RDU International Airport from California on Wednesday, Charlie Montoyo’s commercial flight encountered a dreaded tarmac delay on top of his layover at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Around him, many of his fellow travelers grumbled and complained.

Given what he’s endured the last two weeks, and humbled by the outcome, Montoyo found it easy to brush off the minor inconvenience.

“I was on the runway like 45 minutes and it didn’t bother me,” Montoyo said with a laugh. “I’ve gone through all that and I was like, ‘OK’. People are all upset and I’m like, ‘I’ll just watch another movie’.”

Montoyo, the Durham Bulls manager, knows what real stress is — and it has nothing to do with baseball or airline logistics.

Anxious moments for him came on April 15 at UCLA Medical Center while his 5-year-old son Alex was having open-heart surgery. Alex was in surgery for five hours before Charlie and his wife Samantha saw the doctor walking toward them with an update.

“It’s tough for me to explain what it’s like when the doctor is coming to tell you what happened,” Montoyo said. “He’s going to tell you how it went. It’s intense, nerve-wracking. He could say anything. I’ve gone through it before but it doesn’t make it easier. Actually it makes it worse because I know what the pain is like.”

In this case, the news was positive. Afflicted with Ebstein’s disease since birth, one of the four valves in Alex Montoyo’s heart doesn’t work properly. The procedure earlier this month was his fourth open-heart surgery.

Thankfully, it was successful and Alex Montoyo doesn’t have any more surgeries in the offing. If this one hadn’t gone well, Alex Montoyo would have needed a transplant.

On Wednesday, just nine days after the surgery, Alex was allowed to return home to Arizona. The family traveled to the airport together.

Charlie boarded his flight to Baltimore before connecting to RDU. His family headed back to Arizona.

Alex Montoyo faces six weeks of rehabilitation. But if all goes well, he and the rest of the Montoyo family will join Charlie Montoyo in Durham for the summer.

That means, after spending the last couple of weeks watching Alex in his hospital bed unable to move because of the tubes sticking out of his little body, Charlie Montoyo will have a good summer regardless of how the Bulls do on the field.

“That’s the one thing you learn when you go through things like this,” Charlie Montoyo said. “Life goes on and teams keep playing.”