My recent added photography responsibilities [all right, it’s been a year and a half] have started to catch up with me.
I found myself a possible target in a shooting gallery at two different places Thursday.
While shooting baseball pictures at Cumberland’s Woody Hunt Stadium, a foul ball bounced into the front row of the grandstand just past the Bulldogs’ third-base dugout, hitting my forearm and camera.
Neither suffered any damage. The camera still works. And I’ve forgotten which arm got hit as there isn’t so much as a bruise. Didn’t even need an ice pack which Cumberland’s trainer offered.
A few hours later, I avoided getting hit, but missed a couple of close calls as two foul balls bounced into Wilson Central’s dugout. At least one bounced over my head and was caught by Wildcat catcher Chase Ford. Don’t remember what exactly happened with the other but it prompted me to decide I had enough shots and got out of there.
Oh, and there was the other day when I was shooting inside Cumberland’s softball dugout and a changeup was pulled through the door and into the Lady Bulldogs’ bench area. That one also missed me.
By the way, there’s nothing soft about softball, from the ball to the intensity these young ladies bring to the game.
Back to my previous thought: It’s getting to where I need to bring a glove and batting helmet as well as a camera and notepad to baseball and softball games.
At least I came away unscathed. That couldn’t be said for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who got one of his 100-mph heaters right back him when Kansas City Royal batter Salvador Perez lined a shot off the Cuban Missle’s face just above the left eye.
Chapman fell to the ground in a scary heap. It was so unnerving no one – players, coaches, umpires – wanted to continue the spring training game, which was halted right there in the sixth inning.
According to news reports Thursday, Chapman came out fortunate. He suffered only a broken bone above the eye, a nose fracture and “very mild concussion”. He underwent surgery that day where a metal plate was inserted above the eye.
The Reds team doctor said Chapman could start working out within two weeks and pitch in a game within a month or two.
Other players – pitchers as well as hitters who’ve taken a pitch in the head – haven’t always been so fortunate.
The most unfortunate of all was Cleveland Indian shortstop Ray Chapman, who was fatally injured by a pitch to the head in 1920, some 30 years before batting helmets were introduced.
Coaches on the sidelines aren’t immune either. The reason pro and college coaches in the third- and first-base boxes wear batting helmets is the death of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh from a line-drive foul off his head while he was watching a base runner from the first-base box in 2007.
Others who weren’t killed suffered other physical and psychological issues [think Tony Conigliaro or Herb Score] which greatly affected their careers and even the rest of their lives.
Baseball isn’t called hardball for nothing, something I was reminded of Thursday when I was completing the long trek from the Lebanon High parking lot to Brent Foster Field for the Blue Devils’ game with Watertown. A ball got away from a young boy playing catch with a man I assume was his father. It rolled toward me and I kicked it back to the boy soccer style.
My foot wished I hadn’t done that. But like my forearm, there isn’t even a bruise.
With baseball season cranking up in full force, if you’re tempted to take a glove with you to a game, do so. Not just for a possible souvenir. You might save yourself a world of hurt – or worse.