It started out as a sprawling dive on an attempted catch of a foul ball during a Lodi American Legion baseball game last spring.
It ended with B.J. Bailon on a hospital bed near death, bleeding out from a torn artery and a ruptured spleen.
But thanks to the heroic actions of Teresa Armstrong, Bailon is providing valuable minutes off the bench as a key reserve on the Tokay varsity basketball squad this season.
Despite being just minutes away from dying on that day, the 16-year old Tokay High junior is making the most of his second chance at life.
"Mrs. Armstrong saved my life. If it was not for her, I would not be here," Bailon said. "She was like a second mother to me. She was there for me every step of the way."
Bailon has a long scar running from his sternum to his belly button after doctors rushed him into emergency surgery on May 24 to repair his artery and remove his spleen.
Yet he nearly did not go to the hospital at all that day, and when he did, he almost did not make it to the emergency room in time.
If not for a crucial decision by Teresa Armstrong that overruled his father's initial wishes, Bailon would not be alive today.
When Bailon returned to the dugout following the play at William Land Park in Sacramento, he complained of shortness of breath and feeling a weird, warm sensation moving up his chest.
"It was the most unbelievable pain I ever felt," he said, adding that it never occurred to him that he might be dying.
It was then that Lodi Legion manager Mark Armstrong asked his wife, Teresa, to check on B.J.
"It was clear to me that he was scared and not feeling well at all. I was afraid that he had maybe cracked a rib and punctured a lung," Teresa Armstrong said. "So we called B.J.'s father, Joe, to let him know."
After talking to his son and Teresa Armstrong, the elder Bailon did not think it was serious at first and asked for his son to be brought back home to Lodi, where they would seek medical attention if necessary.
But Teresa Armstrong, a third-grade teacher at St. Anne's and a mother of four kids, all of them athletes, suspected something was very wrong.
She insisted on taking B.J. to UC Davis Medical Center on the recommendation of Bob Waugh, a Sacramento police detective and father of B.J.'s Tokay High and Legion teammate Dylan Waugh.
"We made the decision to go to the emergency room and asked B.J.'s dad to meet us there," Teresa Armstrong said. "Darlene Clark (mother of B.J.'s Legion teammate Matt Clark) offered to drive us to the hospital."
But the trio got lost on the way to the medical center, and B.J.'s condition quickly worsened. Upon arrival he had chills and nausea, and subsequent medical testing revealed a large amount of life-threatening fluid in his abdominal cavity.
Meanwhile, a frantic Joe Bailon was rushing up the freeway toward the hospital and blinking back tears. The elder Bailon's mind raced through a lifetime of memories of the son he had raised since birth as a single parent.
The endless games of wiffle-ball in the summer. Playing catch with the football in the fall and countless games of one-on-one basketball in the driveway in the winter. The father-son bond was unshakable. They were that close.
"I was praying the whole way up there, begging God to please help my son," Joe Bailon said. "I had never been so scared in my life. I must have made it to Sacramento from Lodi in 20 minutes."
But like the others, Joe Bailon got lost, too. Panicked and desperate, he arrived just in time to see his son being rushed off to surgery. The successful operation took just 90 minutes and left him with 24 staples in his abdomen. He lost 25 pounds during his ordeal, leaving him with just 125 pounds stretched over his 5-foot, 11-inch frame.
Afterwards, a shaken Joe Bailon realized his son would have died on the way home to Lodi.
"The doctors said that if B.J. had waited another five minutes to get medical attention, he would have been dead," Joe Bailon said. "He had 50 percent of his blood supply in his stomach. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate what the Armstrongs did for my son. Teresa Armstrong saved his life."
When Teresa Armstrong arrived back at the hospital the next morning after the operation, she found B.J. alone.
Knowing that Joe Bailon was a single parent who needed assistance in caring for his son and that B.J.'s mother, Shannon Reed, lived four hours away in Redding, Teresa Armstrong again stepped up to the plate and assumed the role of a surrogate mother.
She enlisted the entire Armstrong family, including Mark, daughters Sarah and Liz and sons Patrick and Joey, to provide round-the-clock care and companionship for B.J. throughout his eight-day stay in the hospital.
"I could see that Joe was simply just overwhelmed by what had happened to his son. And as a single parent, I also knew that he couldn't be there 24/7," Teresa Armstrong said. "B.J. didn't want to be left alone. So we made sure there was always someone with him to hold his hand day and night from then on."
Then there were the visitors: the Waughs, the Waldings, the Camarenas, the Clarks, the Stiebs, the Haleys, the Simons, the Chavezes, the Siddle-Mitchells, Pat McFarlane and countless others. Joe Bailon estimated that close to 100 people showed up to visit his son while he was hospitalized and after he was discharged.
Even Lodi High football star Jordan Perkins, who didn't play baseball, showed up with his mother, Joey, to give B.J. a St. Christoper medal to protect him whenever he started playing ball again.
"All the visitors were the best," B.J. said. "That hospital room was never empty."
Teresa Armstrong's caring and generosity did not stop there, either. She organized a letter-writing campaign in which students from St. Anne's thirdand sixth-grade classes all wrote get-well letters to B.J. wishing him a speedy recovery.
Day after day, Teresa Armstrong made the 45-minute drive to the hospital. She got B.J. up when he didn't want to walk and fed him when he didn't want to eat. She talked with him about getting good grades and about going to college. She treated him like one of her own, and the pair formed an attachment that was as strong as any mother-son bond.
When B.J. finally came home from the hospital, it only took one night before it was clear that the modest home where he and his father lived was not completely equipped to handle his immediate post-surgical recuperation, as well as the constant visits from family and friends.
So, yet again, Teresa Armstrong and her family opened their hearts to B.J. They fashioned a make-shift hospital bed in the front room and he stayed with them for a week. It proved to be the right decision.
"The first days were extremely tough on him. He was very weak, couldn't eat and was in intense pain. He was never not holding one of our hands, whether it was Teresa's, Joe's, mine or our kids'," Mark Armstrong said. "Our kids all brought friends, along with magazines, presents and stuff to cheer him up. He loved all of the attention, and the room was always full of kids playing Xbox. It made you want to cry to see how much pain he was in."
And through it all, Mark Armstrong marveled as his wife of 26 years juggled being a wife, a mother of four, a school teacher, and surrogate mother to B.J. while sleeping just a couple of hours a night.
"My wife was a saint throughout all of this. It was she who took control of the situation and took care of B.J. When he started telling us what he wanted for dinner, we decided it was time for him to go home," Mark Armstrong joked.
B.J. Bailon now weighs 155 pounds, but admits he is still not completely recovered. But he hopes to be when varsity baseball season rolls around next spring, since he is the starting second baseman for Tokay.
"I am not 100 percent yet, but I am working on it. I look at things a lot differently now," B.J. Bailon said. "I want to thank all of the people in the Lodi community who supported me and my family when we needed it the most."
Teresa Armstrong said she learned something from it, too.
"I learned the importance of trusting your instincts," she said. "Never underestimate an injury."
Mark Armstrong agrees.
"No one thought the injury was as serious as it was. Maybe a couple of days off and then back on the field. Eight days in the hospital was the end result," he said. "We realized that not everyone is fortunate as we are. Our family didn't do what they did because it was B.J. We did it because that is what people do. There was nothing like holding his hand when he needed it."