Being a Clearwater Thresher’s season ticket holder is like an endurance test. The heat, humidity and summer storms make those who have season tickets a hardy bunch and you bond with those who are going through it with you.
There’s an extra bond when you meet someone who goes to Gulf Coast League games as they happen at NOON in the burning Florida sun. This is where a Baseball Ross and I first met John Berry.
John was excited about a pitcher the Phillies had signed, Anton Kuznetsov, who was from Russia where John’s wife Anna was born. John and Anna befriended Anton and John soon brought me a picture of the three of them. Baseball Ross has used it in his blog back in 2017.
Sadly, we lost John at Thanksgiving. When I say “we”, I mean our little group of season ticket holders, the hardy ones who have become a little “framily”. Today, his sweet wife, Anna, held a lunch in John’s honor.
Of course there were some sad moments and tears were shed but the overwhelming feeling was joy. You see, we shared laughs, as John had a “thing” for chasing foul balls.
John would always had this serious look of determination when he was chasing a foul and nothing could stop him. One friend laughed as he recounted how John had tripped over his legs as John was trying to get to the aisle to chase the ball.
Our little group shared a good laugh and raised a glass to one of our own who was gone too soon. John was a good egg and he never lost that true love of going home with a ball. It’s what made him special. Going to games next spring are going to be a little less special without our good friend John Berry.
This has been something that has always peeved me about baseball. People being injured by flying balls and bats. It’s not a “new” problem. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that this is a cause I’ve championed for ages. I’ll post links to my previous blogs below.
In case you haven’t heard, last night a 4 year old little girl was hit by the a foul ball hit by Albert Almora Jr. it must have been terrible as the players all reacted in horror. As a fan, I know this sound.
I was at a game in Lakewood, New Jersey when an “airmailed” throw from third sailed into the crowdabove the first base dugout and pegged a toddler square in the back. He was standing directly in front of his mother. There was nothing she could have done to protect him. It made this sick, thump as you could hear the air knocked out of the child’s lungs. He did not cry.
That was even scarier, the lack of crying. There was dead silence and for a brief second I thought he had been killed. Then he made this high pitched squealing breath and started to cry. It was terrifying. Luckily, there was a pediatrician sitting in the next section who immediately attended the child.
The player was horrified at the damage he had caused.
It’s been almost 13 years since that game, August 19, 2006 and yes, I remember the date. When is the safety of the patrons going to rate spending a few thousand dollars for poles and net?
It’s not just horrifying to the injured person, their family and the adjacent fans but looking at Almora’s reaction and subsequent sobbing on the shoulder of a security guard when he was told she’d be ok shows how traumatizing it is for the players that bat the ball.
In the NHL, one little girl, Brittani Cecil was killed by a deflected puck in March, by the beginning of the next season, all NHL facilities had protective netting. That’s all it took, one accident. With the myriad of incidents and serious injuries with MLB, why have they not acted?
This article in the Washington Post outlines some of the most egregious injuries and deaths in baseball history. The key part of the article is as follows:
it hascome to be known as the “Baseball Rule.”As long as teams offer some protected areas, fans sitting outside that zone do so at their own risk — a warning still printed on the back of every MLB ticket today.
It’s not an idle warning. A review byBloomberg in 2014found that 1,750 fans per year are injured by foul balls. Many of the injuries have been harrowing. In 2017,Sports Illustrated’s Gabriel Baumgaertner recounted some recent cases: a woman in Dodger Stadium whose jaw was broken in two places by a flying bat in 2008; a fan at Fenway Park who spent a week in serious condition at a hospital in 2015 after a thrown bat hit his head; a screaming line drive at Wrigley Field that same year that left a fan carted out on a stretcher. Per ESPN, only two fans before Goldbloom had ever died due to head trauma caused by a baseball at an MLB game: a 32-year-old named Clarence Stagemyer, who died in 1943 after being hit by an errant throw to first at Washington’s Griffith Stadium; and Alan Fish, a 14-year-old who died in 1970 after a foul ball at Dodger Stadium hit him in the head.
Linda Goldbloom, Alan Fish and Clarence Stagemyer have all died from batted balls. How many others have been seriously injured by balls and bats?
How many people have to die or be seriously injured before MLB will do something? MLB promotes their in park ballpark apps…further distraction from play on the field-one more thing that could lead to someone getting hurt? Players are bigger and stronger, the technology in the equipment allows them to hit balls harder and faster. MLB is even promoting “EXIT VELOCITY” and “LAUNCH ANGLE”, two more ways to encourage harder hitting.
The Japanese League has added netting from home to foul poles. They take fan safety seriously.
The new netting is very thin and it in no way interferes with the experience. They installed it at Spectrum Field last season so I can speak from experience.
Are people so worried about not being able to get a foul ball that they are willing to risk serious injury? Would you take that chance with your family? As it stands now, MLB thinks it’s a risk you are willing take.
Clearwater has done a lot in the last few years in the way of off the field entertainment. Tonight was “Field of Dreams” night and the guest of honor was Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella in the movie.
First he played catch with Phiney:
Then threw out the first pitch:
Then he moved up to the concourse to take photos and sign copies of his book.
He is a heck of a nice guy. He was quite impressed when I told him he was in one of my favorite movies-The Cutting Edge. He told me about the filming of that movie and we also talked about my struggles at getting my book published. Before saying goodbye he stopped and took a picture with me:
All in all, it was a good time and I can’t wait to read the book. You’ll be able to see it on our memorabilia wall in one of our upcoming podcasts on our second YouTube Channel.
I’ve been a Roy Halliday fan for a long time. He’s an easy one to like. We all know his on the field successes…but I also am a fan for his off the field activities.
He was a friend to local police. It was mentioned at his memorial that he had donated the money for the Pasco County Sheriffs office to purchase another police dog, which they named Doc after him. Doc was even at the memorial service. Halladay often donated gloves, hats, shoes and other signed memorabilia for the PAL silent auction at Spectrum Field.
I was lucky enough to get a signed, embroidered, game used Halladay glove in one of the auctions. It still bothers me to this day that I missed getting his cleats and hat that night. I also walked away with a signed commemorative plaque complete with coins and signed with PG and the date for perfect game.
I also have a ball he signed ball he signed for me one year in spring training. I remember it well, it was one of the first balls I ever got. I waited next to the fence by the parking lot. It was later in the afternoon and there were only a few of us left waiting. Halladay went out to his car and was talking with Carlos Ruiz who was parked near him. He then noticed the group of us and came over and signed before he left. It always impressed me as he could have just gotten in his car and driven away, but instead he came back for us.
It also had impressed me what when he found out that there was a fan twitter page called “I want to go to the zoo with Roy Halladay” that once he retired, he made that happen too.
Roy was one of those rare guys who you could root for both on and off the field. His stats tell you what kind of a player was, his off the field activities tell you what kind of man he was. I am glad that he got the call to the Hall of Fame. He earned and deserved it and gosh how I wish he was here to get the call himself.