One spring training event nobody wanted to see again was the absolute obliteration of an innocent bird, such as the one Randy Johnson destroyed with his fastball 14 years ago. Unfortunately, the odds caught up to our feathered friends during Friday’s Grapefruit League game between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
According to MLive.com’s James Schmehl, a first-inning foul ball off the bat of Tigers rookie catcher James McCann struck a bird as it sat on the guide wire behind home plate at Champions Stadium. WDIV Local 4 in Detroit actually captured video of the strike, which sent feathers flying and the bird’s body tumbling into the lap of a fan seated behind the screen.
Here’s the video, but pleased be advised that the images may be disturbing.
Amazingly, Schmehl says the bird is believed to have survived based on an announcement made over the PA system. So perhaps it was only a glancing blow with the fortunate landing saving the bird from other further damage. That, or maybe they just didn’t want to upset young fans gathered at the stadium, which is located on the campus of Walt Disney World.
The game was not delayed by the incident. In fact, McCann wasn’t even aware of what had happened until after his at-bat, when home plate umpire Joe West informed him.
“(West) said he didn’t know what was funnier,” McCann said, “seeing the bird get hit or the woman’s reaction when it landed in her lap.”
As most managers and players would probably attest, that Joe West sure has a unique sense of humor.
Here’s another twist to this story that’s kinda eerie. If a New York Yankees fan heard about a bird getting hit by a McCann foul ball without knowing the whole story, it may have caused their heart to skip a beat.
Why? Check out the Yankees lineup on Friday.
That’s catcher Brian McCann, no relation to James McCann, followed by top prospect Greg Bird, who would have been standing in the on-deck circle during all of McCann’s plate appearances. It’s a scary thought, because there have been times when the on-deck batter was hit by a foul ball. In the sad case of Juan Encarnacion, the eye injury he sustained actually ended his career. It’s a vulnerable and dangerous position to be in, but thankfully this wasn’t one of those situations.
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