Monday, August 17, 2009

Oops Upside Your Head

Saturday saw two very scary incidents take place on the diamond. In the afternoon, a 93 MPH fastball from Matt Cain drilled David Wright in the ear, knocking him senseless. He left the park on a stretcher and was taken to the Hospital for Special Surgery for overnight observation. The Mets placed him on the DL Sunday, and Jerry Manuel conceeded it's possible that Wright could be done for the year. The Mets now have their four best offensive players on the disabled list. They may want to consider encasing Johan Santana in bubble wrap.

On Saturday night and even scarier incident took place in Phoenix. In the bottom of the sixth Rusty Ryal smashed a line drive up the middle that smacked Hiroki Kuroda square in the temple. The ball rebounded off his dome and landed on the warning track by the third base on deck circle on the fly, before one hopping into the stands for a ground rule double. Despite writhing in pain on the ground, reportedly the first think Kuroda asked was "Did anyone catch the ricochet?", which he off course prononuced "lick-o-shay". Kuroda was released from the hospital Sunday and flew home with the Dodgers (so it's clearly appropriate for me to make an insensitive joke at this point).

These two incidents happened just one day short of the 89th anniversary of the most notorious beaning in baseball history. On August 16, 1920, the Cleveland Indians faced the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. It reportedly was an overcast day. In the fifth inning, Yankee pitcher Carl Mays, a submariner, unleashed a fastball that plunked Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman in the temple. He was knocked unconcious and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day. Mays had a reputation as a head hunter, but until his death in 1971 he claimed the beaning was not intentional. Mays purported that the ball was wet and scuffed - not uncommon in those days - causing it to sail high and tight. Given Mays' arm angle, the likely condition of the ball, and the overcast day, it's probable that Chapman never even saw it coming. It remains the only on-field fatality in Major League history.

As scary as things were for Wright and Kuroda on Saturday, they are both far luckier than poor Ray Chapman.


  1. And don't forget what happened coincidentally and actually weirdly almost exactly 42 years ago to the day... Tony Canigliaro (sp?)

  2. Good point - I had forgotten about that one.

    Conigliaro was 8/18/67. Another real bad one - the pictures of his eye afterwards were gruesome. Derailed what looked like would be a great career.

  3. Yeah it's kind of bizarre the proximity to the same date...