Rizzuto's first professional season was in D ball, playing for the 1937 Bassett Furnituremakers. Early in the season, the injury occurred. The Scooter told 2 versions of the tale:
- For Joe Trimble's 1951 biography, Rizzuto told Trimble he got a charley-horse turning a double play.
- Later on, he told Yankees Magazine that he was running to first, stepped into a gopher hole, then felt something pop.
It turned out a leg muscle had pulled apart, which the doctor said "happens maybe once in a million cases of strain." Worse, the delay in treatment had allowed the leg to become gangrenous, almost to the point where the leg needed amputation. Surgery needed to occur, without delay.
Rizzuto's words convey the severity of the operation:
"When I woke up 17 hours later...the doctor told me I would never play again. The doctor cut six inches off the muscle and tied the ends off to the other muscles. I have a big hole in my leg, and it extends from my knee to my thigh."
A few months later the Scooter was back on the field, helping lead the Furnituremakers to the Bi-State League pennant. Hopefully Joba will make a similarly speedy recovery; fortunately it sounds like Joba's leg did not get the infection that would have ended his career.