Ouch! Twins’ Span hits mother with foul ball
Mom sore, but OK; ‘I’m sure he’ll probably buy her a nice dinner tonight’
The Associated Press
updated 1:54 p.m. PT, Wed., March. 31, 2010
The Minnesota Twins' Denard Span, center, checks on his mother after she was hit by a foul ball off Span's bat.
TAMPA, Fla. - Minnesota Twins leadoff man Denard Span hit a hard foul ball that struck his mom in the chest during Wednesday’s game. She was treated by paramedics and back in the stands minutes later.
“My mom is feeling ok right now!” Span later posted on his Twitter account.
Wanda Wilson was wearing a Span jersey and sitting with about 20 family members and friends near the third-base dugout. Span took a defensive swing in the first inning and sent a liner into the low box seats, hitting her near the shoulder.
A stunned Span sprinted into the stands and stayed with his mother while she got treatment. The split-squad game against the New York Yankees was delayed for a few minutes as she walked to first aid, and the Twins said she was sore but OK.
“What the odds of that happening?” Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. “I’ve never seen it before. It’s crazy. I’m standing there right next to it and I heard it and it’s just, ’Oh no!, that didn’t sound good.’ She’s on the ground and I’m saying, ’Please don’t be the head or something’ because it sounded so ugly.”
Span had left the clubhouse by the time reporters were allowed in after the Twins’ 4-2 win.
“It happened so fast,” Twins starting pitcher Brian Duensing said. “I talked to Denard about it and he said once he found the ball after he hit it, then he realized right away it was his mother. He knew right away.”
“It’s scary. From what I heard, what he said, she’s all right. It could have been way worse,” he said. “They left together. We’ll know tomorrow. I asked if she was all right and he said, ’Yes, she’s fine.”’
Span returned to the plate and struck out on the next pitch from Phil Hughes. The Twins originally said Span would leave the game, but his mother was sitting in a different seat by the bottom of the first inning and he went to play center field.
Span flied out in the second inning, then left in the bottom of the third, telling a team official he wasn’t mentally into the game. Span and his mother spent time together after he departed.
“It affected him. He wanted to come out, so we took him out,” Anderson said. “He went and saw her, and then he said, ’I want to stay in.’ He’s real close and obviously it’s his mom, and finally we just said go.”
“It tore him up pretty good. She’s doing well. They said she was fine and he got a chance to be with her. I’m sure he’ll probably buy her a nice dinner tonight,” he said.
Span tied for the league lead in triples last year, helping the Twins win the AL Central.
Anderson said a few inches either way could’ve made for a much more serious injury.
“It hit her in the meat. I guess if it got up on the bone or the shoulder blade or something, the trainer said it could have shattered it. No place is good, but if it had to be somewhere, at least it didn’t get a bone,” he said.
Span was born and raised in Tampa. He regularly volunteers to make the long trip from the Twins’ spring training home in Fort Myers when Minnesota visits the Yankees so he can see his family.
Spring training ballparks are much smaller than stadiums where regular-season games are held. But along with being more cozy, spring parks can be more dangerous because fans often sit closer to the field.
The backstop netting at George M. Steinbrenner Field goes all the way from behind the plate to the roof, and extends toward the dugouts. Span’s mother was sitting only a few rows off the field, in the first section where the netting ends.
“It’s kind of a dangerous spot,” Hughes said. “I think they should move the net all the way to the dugout because you can get those foul balls like that.”
Fans are often reminded to be alert for balls and bats that might go flying into the stands. But with objects traveling so fast, such injuries become perils of the game.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller heard about the Span accident and recalled the time he threw a pitch that was fouled off and hit his mom — on Mother’s Day.
“She was sitting right next to the dugout at Comiskey Park in Chicago,” the 91-year-old Feller said at Cleveland’s camp in Goodyear, Ariz. “It hit her right above the eye, broke her glasses and she needed seven stitches. It was in 1939. Some Mother’s Day for her, wasn’t it? I was pretty upset, but had to keep on pitching.”
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