Sue Cooney is lucky. In the fifth inning of Thursday's Royals-Angels game, the 64-year-old woman took the barrel of a maple bat to the face.
Angels outfielder Torri Hunter was at bat, and the head of the bat snapped off and flew into the stands. It hit Cooney, who was sitting three rows behind the Angels' dugout, along the third-base line. The bat broke her cheekbone and eye socket and damaged facial nerves. Fox 4 reported that she likely needs several reconstructive surgeries.
"I thought I was shot," Cooney told the TV station. "All of a sudden, I
had this most horrible pain. It felt like someone was just crushing my
"I was turned in a way that it didn't really hit me head-on or kill me," Cooney said.
To Hunter's credit, he looked concerned after the broken-bat incident. He repeatedly looked into the stands. The next day, Hunter reportedly made a personal call to Cooney to check on her.
"I've had balls flown into the stands, but this is the first person I've hit," Hunter said in a phone message. "I feel real bad and wanted to call you and check up on you and see how you're doing and talk with you."
Cooney called the gesture "really sweet."
ESPN reports that the freak accident could cause Major League Baseball to re-evaluate guidelines for its bat manufacturers.
Maple bats have been popular with major league players since BarryAccording to ESPN, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is among those against maple bats.
Bondsused them a decade ago. Other players still use ash bats,
which tend to crack rather than splinter, according to studies. The
swing that broke Hunter's bat produced a single to medium-deep center
"I don't think I got jammed," Hunter said. "I hit it pretty good, and it
Hunter had been using that bat for the past two weeks and said he had
been jammed four times without breaking it. He believes it simply dried
out from travel and the wood grew fatigued from repeated use. Hunter
said the ash bats he used previously splintered about as frequently as
"Now, with maple bats flying all over the place, that makes it worse,"At the least, I hope someone is paying Cooney's medical bills.