– Dream Theater, “A Nightmare To Remember”
One line above was bolded for a reason. Picture for a moment the perfect irony. Wanna know why? Well, guess who got smoked by a batting practice home run yesterday?
That’s right, owner, operator, and resident idiot of Off The Mark was toppled by a baseball yesterday. Here’s the story:
Shortly after gates opened, I sauntered from Section 238 over to 240 for reasons I cannot remember. As you can see from the following two pictures, I was positioning myself into prime home run territory.
Note: All those dots are from in-game home runs, but I’m willing to bet that batting practice homers probably land with the same frequency in those areas of the ballpark.
After I finished my saunter to 240, my supervisor, Barry, pulled me aside to tell me that another usher would be coming up to give me a break sometime during the game. Shortly after he finished saying this, I just heard, “Watch out!” from a person nearby. I turned around…Without warning, out of nowhere Like a bullet from the night
…and all I saw was a baseball about 1 foot in front of my face. Next thing I know,* I hear roughly the same sound when a baseball hits a catcher’s mask at 90 MPH, I stumble a few steps backwards and fall on my back.
* Around this point while I was typing, I paused to see if I could recreate the sound the ball made when it hit my chin by softly punching my jaw. With how sore my jaw is, that was a stupid idea.
As I’m laying on the ground, I lifted up my head to see about 5 people surrounding me asking if I was okay. To be honest, I didn’t feel the ball hit me that hard, I was just stunned. In fact, I wanted to stand up about 30 seconds after being hit, but with all head injuries, no one around me would let me stand. Fortunately, first aid arrived only a minute after I was hit, and from the nearby beer stand, they quickly delivered a bag of ice. Everyone around had to laugh when they saw that the bag of ice was as large as my head.
Now to answer some FAQs that I’ve had over the past 24 hours.
Did you get the ball that hit you?
No, everyone near me was concerned about how I was doing, and I didn’t see where the ball went. I have a feeling that it bounced down the stairs to Gate 34 where someone that had no idea what just happened scooped it up. However, a supervisor that watched the whole thing happen had a baseball in his pocket and gave it to me once I asked, “Can I have the ball that hit me?”
Do you know who hit you?
No, but by process of elimination I have narrowed it down to two people. First, the group taking batting practice when I was hit consisted of Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, and Jason Repko. Now, Repko is righthanded, so he couldn’t (okay, most likely) have hit the ball into 240. Joe Mauer tends to be too busy spraying the ball around the field to jack one deep to right field, so I doubt it was him. Since Kubel and Thome are two of the hitters that frequently hit balls into the RF Grandstand (Morneau being the other), I assume that it was either one of these two guys that hit me.
How are you feeling?
My chin has a nice scab on it (one of my fellow ushers said it was just small enough to avoid getting stitches) and it’s certainly bruised, but it’s my jaw, especially near the left joint where my jaws hinge together that hurts the most. I figure the ball probably hit my chin and pushed my whole lower jaw to the left, which is why that area is now sore. I did learn though that sneezing is probably the most painful thing I can do right now. Well, that and punching myself in the jaw as I just did earlier.
Is there video of this?
I’m sure you’d really want video after hearing this tale. The supervisor that gave me the baseball said that he was down near the flagpoles in right field when he saw the ball go into the ground. Then, he saw a person in a blue usher shirt fall over and his legs went into the air. After sharing that tidbit, my girlfriend’s dad asked if there was video of me being hit. Right now, my best answer would be “probably.” There are cameras set up around the stadium so people in our Event Command Center can see various parts of the ballpark (usually to catch suspicious behavior that the ushers can’t spot), but I don’t know if they were on yet and focused on Section 240.
How do you look?
Like a thug.
Worst part of the whole ordeal?
I think several things tie for worst part. First, not getting the baseball that hit me. Second, the fact that I was warned to “watch out” about a second before the ball hit me. Third, the fact that I didn’t let the ball bean me in the back instead of my face. Fourth, a little kid banging his Minnesota Twins lunch box on the concrete ground, which sounds very similar to a baseball hitting the video banner that’s right below the railing in the Grandstand, causing me to be a little flinchy. Fifth, having a fan ask me, “During orientation, aren’t you taught to watch the field during batting practice?” Hahaha, that’s funny. Not.
But perhaps the worst part of this whole thing was that this occurred on a Saturday home game. Why is that important? Because every Saturday, the Twins hold a softball home run derby with T.C. As if having one ball flying towards me wasn’t enough, I got peppered by T.C. and Minnesota Wild backup goalie Josh Harding for another 5 minutes. Now that’s just a cruel joke.