By Darryl Webb
“I was really glad I saw it coming.”
I know that statement above sounds a little confusing so allow me to explain.
I don’t know how many professional sporting events I’ve covered in the last 20 years. Let’s just say it’s been a lot and in all that time I’ve never been hurt. There have been a couple of close calls here and there, but nothing serious until earlier this week.
Had I not seen this sphere coming toward me at a blistering speed, the end result could have been a lot worse. I’m not saying it would have been as bad as Sports Illustrated’s photographer John Iacono, who was hit by an overthrown ball in 1999, shattering his jaw which resulted in two titanium plates, some wire mess and something like 20 screws. But it definitely would have been worse than a headache, a bump on the head and two hours spent at Urgent Care.
As I stood in the first base photo well between innings, trying to figure another angle to shoot the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Albert Pujols, I saw Angels’ third baseman Mark Trumbo make a throw to first – a throw he’s made a million times I’m sure. But this time the trajectory was off, it had some extra height to it, and unless Pujols was suddenly 10 feet-tall that ball was headed in my direction.
Instincts took over – DUCK AND COVER.
The problem was I didn’t have much time, maybe 2 or 3 seconds at the most and I was standing on a 4-foot tall platform holding thousands of dollars worth of camera gear so I couldn’t just duck that easily. Instead I turned my cameras around, turned my back to the field and hunched over as much as I could. And waited.
A couple of seconds passed and I thought, “Oh it must of passed or someone caught it.” Then Mr. Rawlings said a big, nasty hello to the back of my head. It hit about three inches behind my ear. My hand immediately went to see if there was blood (no blood thank goodness).