If you’ve ever been to a Major League Baseball game, surely you’ve seen and heard the announcements before the game asking you to pay attention to the game at all times. If you’ve never been, well… know that they make these types of announcements to protect themselves from any liability. It’s the same as at a hockey game or any sporting event where a projectile could potentially enter the stands and strike a fan – but I would say it’s definitely most prevalent in baseball, where the stadiums don’t offer a ton of protection for fans (aside from those directly behind the plate, who are protected by netting).
If you’re at a game and not paying attention, this could potentially happen to you:
Hey look, it’s Mr. Walk-off Grand Slam himself, Steve Pearce at bat!
That guy got lucky. There are plenty of others who haven’t been so lucky in the past. I learned that lesson at the age of 13 or so, while practicing with my youth baseball team. One of my teammates was standing on deck waiting for his turn to bat when the teammate who was at bat hit a foul ball directly at his face. I don’t know if he was paying close attention or not, but even if he was, he barely would have had time to get his hands up to protect his face. He ended up taking it off the nose. I don’t know if his nose ended up being broken, but given the amount of blood on the ground, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.
It’s one thing when it’s a foul ball coming at you, but entirely another when it’s a home run ball coming at you in the outfield stands. Here’s a clip from Friday night’s game between the San Diego Padres and the Pittsburgh Pirates:
As you can see if you watched that whole video, a Pirates fan in the crowd got nailed in the family jewels by that home run ball. It got him pretty good too – later in the video they show a shot of the fan, crouched down in pain while everyone around him is either smiling or laughing.
This gives you a pretty good look at that exact moment too:
All kinds of stuff going on here. Not only did this guy get nailed in the junk by a baseball, it was hit off the bat of one of the visiting team’s players… straight into a hometown fan. Note the Padres fan sitting right beside him that it conveniently missed. So not only did he just take a shot to the pills (and a pretty hard one at that), it was a shot that widened the visiting team’s lead. On top of all that, it wasn’t clear initially if it was a home run or not, so the umpires had to review it, and everyone sitting in the stadium got to relive that painful moment a few times while the call was made. It’s one of those things that’s hilarious to everyone else, but sucks when it happens to you.
So why didn’t he reach out and protect his twig and berries? He was probably trying to avoid interfering with a ball in play… And us Blue Jays fans know all about what can happen when a fan interferes with a ball in play…
Two years later, that still doesn’t look like a home run to me… But umpires seem to hate the Jays so, c’est la vie. Where’s Max Scherzer when you need him?
Fan interference is something that unfortunately happens all too often in baseball… And in some cases, it can ruin lives – like that of Steve Bartman, who had to go into hiding following the infamous incident that bears his name:
That story did ultimately have a happy ending this past week when the Chicago Cubs gave Bartman a 2016 World Series ring.
Many people believe Bartman cost the Cubs the World Series that year – that link doesn’t go real in-depth, but if you want to learn more, just google “The Steve Bartman incident.” Regardless of whether or not he actually cost the team their first championship since 1908, having to live 14 years in secrecy seems a little excessive.
I mean, if he had been in Boston, he probably would have just had a slice of pizza thrown at him:
Back to the first game in question, and why that guy didn’t protect himself… What’s weird is that in the next inning of that Padres-Pirates game, there was another Padres home run that was the subject of a fan interference review:
Now believe it not, Carlos Asuaje is NOT the only player to have ever hit a fan in the crotch with a home run.
Evan Gattis did it back in 2013:
Dan Johnson also achieved this feat, launching a pinch-hit home run to tie the game with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, no less:
So, guys, while it probably doesn’t seem obvious from the stands, it’s always a good idea to protect your junk. Nobody wants to end up like this guy:
Oh, and for the record, THIS is the proper way to go after a home run ball:
This is an absolute modern day Norman Rockwell painting. pic.twitter.com/SxYF6JRkof
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) August 4, 2017
Redditors went to work on it yesterday. Credit to maclavarius, IllUpsetFlaskIll, chiaroscuro1102, and Cmatthewman. pic.twitter.com/hIZctZwhAW
— Andy Cole (@AndyCole84) August 4, 2017