A woman attending last night’s Red Sox, A’s game was seriously injured receiving what was described as “life-threatening injuries” when Brett Lawrie’s broken bat flew into the stands.
A detailed story can be found HERE. (Warning graphic content)
Injuries cause by equipment flying into the stands is something that I’ve not only seen while attending sports events, baseball and hockey but sadly, something I experienced first hand during the 1997 AHL play off season in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
I had just started dating Ross and we were really into watching the Hershey Bears, a perennial contender for the Calder Cup. The game started with a fight, a big fight that caused on of the Kentucky Thoroblades to be ejected only five minutes in. The goon, Ken Belanger, went into the locker room, got dressed and was walking the concourse.
Of course, that caught the crowd’s attention, so I will be the first to admit I should’ve been watching the game. However, I wasn’t and I would pay dearly for not paying attention. Hershey Bear Captain Mike McHugh hit a wraparound shot on the glass that picked up speed as it went. Ross and I were sitting where the glass went from high to low so as the puck whipped around the glass, it came to the end of the high glass and went out in the crowd full speed.
I knew from the sound of the puck that it was coming our way so I turned to look-so I know which way duck but there wasn’t time. The puck hit me squarely between the eyes. I was lucky, I never lost consciousness. My first thought was to check to see if Ross was it as well. Before I could turn my head-my vision was obscured by blood.
By the end of the night I went home with 15 stitches, a concussion and a skull fracture. To this day, I have a scar between my eyebrows. The emergency room doctor said I was lucky, had the puck hit me anywhere else in the head I might not have had a good outcome.
Just five years later, 13 year old Brittanie Cecil was killed at a Columbus Bluejacket game in the same manner. Soon after, the NHL placed nets behind the goal for safety. Had the nets been in place at the time of my incident, I wouldn’t have been scarred.
Is this incident the one like Brittanie Cecil’s, the one that will make MLB act in the interest of fan safety? While getting a foul ball is baseball tradition, is it worth the risk? What will it take? MLB didn’t take action in 1970 when a 14 year old was killed by a line drive ball hit by Manny Mota at a Dodgers game. Fan protection must be paramount and MLB must act.
At last report the injured Sox fan had undergone surgery and was in stable condition.