Bronx, NY—On the same day that Roy Halladay of the Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in major league history, the Yanks and Indians struggled through a 4 hour and 22 minute baseball game that seemed even longer. During the game, a large crowd of 46, 599 attendees watched twelve pitchers give up 24 runs, 26 hits, 13 walks, 3 hit batsmen, a wild pitch and a balk.
The one heart-stopping moment occurred with one out in the bottom of the third inning. You want to take it back. You think of him. You think of his family. Men were on base and Alex Rodriguez was at the plate. Rodriguez lined a fastball up the middle that was deflected off the area above the left ear of Cleveland hurler David Huff. The 25 year-old immediately hit the ground with his face down. Although two runs scored and the Yanks were ahead 3-0, the attention of everyone in the ballpark was riveted upon the fallen pitcher. Cleveland infielders and training staff rushed to the mound. Rodriguez, with a stunned look of horror on his face, approached the mound.
Huff was tended to by trainers and emergency workers. He was taken on a stretcher from the field. While leaving the field, Huff raised his hand with a thumbs up salute to the cheers of the concerned fans. The sophomore major league hurler, whose first game was little more than a year ago, May 17, 2009, was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital for a CT scan. The scan was negative, and he remained at the hospital for a short while before returning to Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez, a sensitive man, was on his way to the hospital to the visit the pitcher when the game ended, but was called back because hull was already returning. A-Rod’s statement delivered to reporters by Jason Zillo, the media relations director of the Yankees, included the following words, “Your heart stops. You’re scared. You want to take it back. You think of him. You think of his family. When something like that happens, you think of things so much bigger than throwing or hitting a baseball.” Yankee manager Joe Girardi, commented upon the incident after the contest, “We all know how hard a baseball is and at that velocity. You’re frightened for him. Our prayers are with that young man.”
Older and knowledgeable people in the ballpark immediately thought of another frightening incident that took place in a Yanks-Indians game 43 years and 22 days earlier. Cleveland hurler Herb Score, in the third season of what appeared to be a magnificent career, was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Yankees infielder Gil McDougal. Several bones in Score’s face were broken and he missed the rest of the 1957 season. Whether because of that injury or one that later occurred, Score’s playing career ended prematurely and unsuccessfully. He began a lengthy and a heralded broadcasting career with the Indians in 1964 that lasted through the 1997 season.
Hopefully, Huff and Rodriguez will be able to put the incident in the past, physically and emotionally.