MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Baseball fan struck in head by broken bat at Toronto Blue Jays exhibition game

A young fan was almost hit in the face by a flying bat last week but for the intervention of a fellow spectator

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 3:06pm

A 59-year-old woman suffered blunt force trauma when she was struck in the head by a piece of a broken bat during Monday’s Toronto Blue Jays exhibition game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

There was blood running down really quick. She did not lose consciousness, but she was in shock
Witness

Pam Henderson, a Nova Scotia resident and Blue Jays spring training season ticket holder, was injured when Atlanta Braves designated hitter Kelly Johnson’s bat shattered as he grounded out in the sixth innings on Tuesday. The large end of the barrel flew high into the stands and struck Henderson and her husband, Bill, who suffered an injured wrist – and his watch shattered – as he tried to shield his wife from the bat shard.

Henderson was taken by ambulance to Bayfront Medical Centre in St Petersburg. She was treated and released on Monday evening, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The Hendersons were sitting down the first base line, but about nine rows deep, and in the front of the second tier of seats – an area that certainly would not have been covered by enhanced safety netting that Major League Baseball has recommended teams install after a woman was critically injured at Fenway Park last April. Their seats were roughly parallel to the first base bag.

Watch: A young fan was almost hit in the face with a bat at a game last week

Emergency personnel at the stadium were summoned immediately, and Henderson – her face heavily bandaged – was taken from the scene. A Dunedin Fire and Rescue EMT radioed that Henderson suffered blunt force trauma.

“There was blood running down really quick,” said Pat Wright, a Nova Scotia resident and the sister of Bill Henderson. “She did not lose consciousness, but she was in shock.”

Henderson’s seats were seven rows above the Blue Jays dugout. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki sent one of his bats up to the family.

“We’re out there doing our thing, and we know it can end badly,” Tulowitzki told USA TODAY Sports. “It sticks with us the whole game. It does affect us.”

We’re out there doing our thing, and we know it can end badly. It sticks with us the whole game. It does affect us
Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays player

Tulowitzki speaks from experience, as one of his shattered bats struck and injured a woman at Dodger Stadium in 2008. His Colorado Rockies teammate, Todd Helton, had borrowed his maple bat, and it shattered and broke Susan Rhodes’ jaw in two places.

“It’s one of those things that’s just bad luck,” said Tulowitzki. “It seems to be happening more and more.”

Wright said her brother and sister-in-law come down every winter for Blue Jays games, and she and her husband had come to visit this week.

Johnson departed before the game concluded, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was clear the broken bat posed a risk.

“I would’ve been surprised if anyone didn’t get hurt,” Gonzalez said. “Every time it happens, it’s scary. We’re always worried.”