No one is more serious about the game of baseball than Alex Cora. Well, maybe, Daniel Murphy.

When I think of Cora, I think of two things: one, his 18-pitch at bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers and, two, my short conversation with him in 2009, when he was playing for the New York Mets. Let’s begin with the latter first.

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Dickie Thon described it this way: “It was like a boom … a dead sound. Like a thud.”

Today, the boxscore reads HBP (hit by pitch) but, for Thon, it was more than that. The Astros All-Star shortstop had been hit by a pitch major league pitches four times prior to April 8, 1984. No. 5 — a fastball by New York Mets pitcher Mike Torrez — fractured Thon’s orbital bone around his left eye, changing his life and career.

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