(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Frightening Night at the Ball Park

On Tuesday night, my wife, son and a friend of my son's went to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for the Phillies-Marlins game. We sit along the first base line, halfway up to the concourse. We got dinner from Bull's Barbecue, ate some water ice, and then settled in to watch the game. We were hoping to see Jamie Moyer continue his mastery over the Marlins.

But pretty quickly, something terribly wrong happened.

In the top of the first, Marlins' OF Jeremy Hermida hit a screeming line drive into the stands near first base. This wasn't your average long, looping line drive that seems to lose steam as it descends upon the fands. No, this was a line drive shot out of a cannon with full torque on it.

This ball was hit so hard that the fans gasped and stood up, hoping that no one got hit.

But someone did, and quickly we saw a father cradle his young son and dash up the stairs, wife and older son trailing him.

And as I saw the wife and son dash up the stairs, I realized that the family is a family that we're friendly with, that lives a few blocks away, whose older son was in my son's Cub Scout troop and whose house I bike by on the mornings I ride my bike.

What would the odds be of that happening in a stadium that hosted 45,000 plus that night? Even if we didn't know the child who was hit, we would have been worried. As it was, our son and his friend were worried, as they know the boy who was hit. My wife and I were shaken, and my wife dashed up the stairs to see if she could locate the family and offer help of some sort. She didn't, so we sat there, worried, and watched the rest of the game.

We heard the siren of the ambulance that took the boy to Children's Hospital, and we were praying that all he'd come away with was a bad headache. The ball hit the child in the head -- we thought we saw him holding his head, and we learned that the ball actually hit his head from people sitting near us who had friends sitting in the section where the boy was hit.

There was nothing we could do except buy some souvenirs for the kids and take them over to the house the next day. We passed the family's house after we dropped our son's friend at home, and the driveway was missing one car, the house dark.

I awoke at 3:45 a.m., wondering what happened to this little boy. I went online and read an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and there was a quote from Jamie Moyer saying that he was unnerved, but he heard that the boy was going to be okay. Subsequent stories revealed that both Moyer and Hermida have reached out to the boy's family, and Hermida (who said he was so upset he almost couldn't finish his at-bat) has invited the boy and his family to batting practice the next time the Marlins are in Philadelphia. As it turns out, the boy broke the orbital bone below his left eye, and the hospital was keeping him for observation.

So far, the news is a welcome relief for what for us was a frightening night at the ball park.

Situations like this occur rarely, and it's even rarer when the ball injures someone you know. I don't think it should matter whether the person hit is a friend or not -- it's an awful situation -- but it's even worse when you know the person and the family.

Here's to hoping for a quick recovery for this little boy.