By: Jacob Newburn, Texas Rangers, MS, LAT, ATC
PBATS Hall of Fame inductee and former St. Louis Cardinals athletic trainer Gene Gieselmann kept his team healthy for almost three decades. Retiring in 1997, he witnessed three National League pennants and a World Series Championship, all while fighting for athletic trainers to be recognized by the MLB Hall of Fame. Gieselmann’s perspective on athletic training reveals not just key takeaways from his career but also what is to come.
Q: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment as an athletic trainer?
A: We’ve all had something we accomplished with player rehabs, but for me, being a charter member of PBATS is the biggest thing. In the beginning, athletic trainers didn’t communicate well when they came into town, and we strove to change that. There was no regular interleague play back then, and you didn’t know guys in the other league. PBATS was a way for us to intermingle, share ideas and educate one another on things happening in our field across the league. I have been elected into the Missouri and St. Louis Sports Halls of Fame, but being inducted into the PBATS Hall of Fame means everything to me, more than any other award I have received.
Q: Over your career, how has athletic training changed?
A: There are more hands on deck now. It used to be two hands; now there are two, three or even four athletic trainers with each team. We used to do it all by ourselves. I would leave for the field 2 1/2 hours before the first bus so that I could care for injured players, and when the regular bus arrived, I took care of the game guys. Similar to today, but back then there was only one athletic trainer. Also, media coverage has changed. There is more scrutiny, more cameras on you when you’re on the field.
Q: What advice would you give to a young athletic trainer getting started in the field?
A: Get as much education as you can. Learn from your peer group, do the best possible job, and be honest with players and management. The organization and front office have invested time and money into players, and they are depending on us to protect their investment and keep it on the field. We owe it to them to prepare ourselves and do the best job possible.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing PBATS and baseball athletic trainers going forward?
A: It is your responsibility going forward to continue the work that the charter members of PBATS started. It was all about education and trying to better ourselves and learning more so we could be better athletic trainers. You guys today don’t have to worry about the financial and political issues we dealt with starting this organization, so you can concentrate on education, friendship and building professional relationships with one another. You can’t put a dollar value on the friendships you make in this game and I hope PBATS continues to invite alumni back to the meetings for our input.