Relentless: Joe Hallock’s Road to Recovery

Two years after suffering a stroke, Joe Hallock thrives on baseball diamond for Concordia.

FARGO, N.D. — People don’t always go to college near their hometown, Fargo Shanley graduate Joe Hallock did.

“I like it a lot, I can go see my family whenever I want,” Cobber catcher Joe Hallock said. “Friends can come watch. It is a good atmosphere, especially on game day.”

During Joe’s time at Concordia, he cherishes game days and every time he gets to step onto the baseball field. Because, two years ago, it almost came to an end.

In the fall of 2014, Joe had just enrolled at Concordia after finishing junior college in Iowa. Two days before Halloween, following a team workout, his life would quickly change.

“That day we had ran pretty hard,” Joe said. “So, when I felt really tired that night, I didn’t think something was wrong with me. I just thought we ran pretty hard.”

But, it was anything but normal.

“I tried to stand up and I just collapsed to the floor,” Joe stated. “I kind of laid there. In my head I could fully think like ‘all right get up, like what is going on here?’ But I couldn’t move. The left side of my body was paralyzed, and I couldn’t move it.”

Joe’s friends rushed him to the hospital, where he would later be diagnosed with a stroke.

“I couldn’t talk at the time,” Joe explained. “So, I’m just sitting here listening to all this. They’re trying to ask me questions, but I couldn’t respond. They were asking my friends and they didn’t know. Luckily my parents showed up.”

Joe’s parents quickly showed up to the hospital once they heard the news.

“I remember doubting that it was a stroke,” his mom Kristi Hallock said. “You know, hoping that it wasn’t.”

Joe’s dad offered his comfort.

“I was looking and the doctors were there,” Danny Hallock said. “I just kind of held his hand and told him ‘it was going to be okay.'”

It didn’t take long for Joe to become responsive.

“It was weird when I kind of came out of [the stroke], and I could talk,” Joe said. “They had me close my eyes and be like ‘all right lift your right arm.’ That arm was relatively fine.

“‘Now lift your left arm.’ I had my eyes closed, but I think my arm is in the air. Then you open your eyes, and it hasn’t moved. That was definitely the scariest experience, because you don’t know how bad you want to walk until you can’t.”

But Joe’s dad would be correct. It was going to be okay. Eighteen hours after being admitted to the hospital, Joe began to regain feeling in the left side of his body.

“Once I could move my fingers, even a little bit, I knew, ‘all right I’m going to be somewhat okay,'” Joe said. “Then, once I started moving around, that’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t want to lay in that bed anymore; I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.”

A few days later, Joe was released from the hospital. He received a medical red shirt for the upcoming season, and he began rehab not just to get back on the diamond, but to also get back to everyday life.

“If I wanted to play baseball I had to do rehab,” Joe explained. “If I wanted a normal life, if I wanted to be able to do the things that I was doing before, I gotta get through it.”

The following spring, Joe was cleared to hit and pitch for Concordia, but that wasn’t enough for him.

“He was the one that started calling doctors and saying ‘no I gotta get back behind the plate,'” Danny Hallock said.

His parents have seen that kind of drive from their son his whole life.

“When he wants something, he just goes after it and he won’t stop,” Kristi Hallock said.

That is the approach Joe took to getting back behind the plate.

“[Doctors] said ‘you’re not catching ever again.’ That’s one thing they said right away,” Joe stated. “They said ‘You’re on blood thinners. You’re not catching. You can pitch. You can hit.’ I met with my doctors and I kind of got my medications figured out to where I can catch this year. I know the risks and I know what is at stake for it. At the same time, I figure if I’m going to play, I might as well completely play and do it. It has been fun catching again.”

Now he feels 100 percent.

“I feel good. I feel healthy,” Joe said.

Joe’s parents both are happy their son is healthy, playing the game that he loves.

“Every game is a special game. We just feel very, very lucky,” Kristi Hallock said.

His dad agrees.

“In the back of my mind it has always been bonus baseball,” Danny Hallock stated.

If life ever throws Joe another curve ball, he just has to continue to be exactly what is on his right arm, relentless.

“This is what I worked for. This is what I wanted,” Joe said. “I didn’t want to be anywhere else. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”

May is American Stroke Month. For more on identifying and preventing strokes click here.

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