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From the archives | Aug. 7

Jim Rice’s quick reaction helps save child struck by ball

Jim Rice carried 4-year-old Jonathan Keane into Red Sox dugout after he was struck on the head by a Dave Stapleton line drive.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Jim Rice carried 4-year-old Jonathan Keane into Red Sox dugout after he was struck on the head by a Dave Stapleton line drive.

The disclaimer is right there on the back of every ticket:

“The holder assumes all risks and danger incidental to the game of baseball including specifically (but not exclusively) the danger of being injured by thrown bats and thrown or batted balls . . . “

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People never read the disclaimer and people never think they’ll be the one injured by a batted baseball.

The odds were 33,595-to-1 that 4-year-old Jonathan Keane of Greenland, N.H., would be the unfortunate fan struck and injured by Dave Stapleton’s vicious line drive in the bottom of the fourth inning of yesterday’s 7-3 Chicago victory over the Red Sox. Keane suffered a laceration over the left eye and a fractured skull, but was listed in good condition at Children’s Hospital last night.

Attending the game with his parents and brother, the youngster was watching from the second row of seats on the left side of the Red Sox dugout when Stapleton’s foul rocket screeched into the crowd. The ball struck Keane over the left eye. Instantly, there was profuse bleeding from the child’s head.

Rick Miller popped his head out of the Red Sox dugout, saw the blood, and called for Red Sox trainer Charlie Moss.

“He didn’t have a chance,” said Miller. “It was a sickening sight. It was the most sickening thing I’ve ever seen in the stands. Jerry (Remy) was in the runway when Jim went by with the kid and Jerry said he almost threw up.”

Jim Rice acted quickly. He darted to the railing and the child was passed into his arms. Rice carried the youngster through the dugout runway, into the Red Sox clubhouse and into the trainer’s room. Red Sox physician Dr. Arthur Pappas, who’d been watching from his customary box seat, beat Rice to the trainer’s room, called Children’s Hospital and ordered an ambulance. Pappas estimated that the child was in the ambulance less than two minutes after being hit.

According to Pappas, Keane was conscious when he left Fenway. Officials at Children’s Hospital reported that Keane suffered a laceration over the left eye and a fractured skull, but was in “good condition.”

Pappas said he didn’t think the injury was life-threatening, but added, “The big problem now is how much bleeding and swelling will occur over the next few hours,” said Pappas.

Red Sox players appeared shaken by the incident.

“It really hit home for me,” said Miller, who has a 2 1/2 -year-old son. “It upset me quite a bit.”

Rice downplayed his dramatic role. “If it was your kid, what would you do?,” he said. “The baby was crying and there was a lot of blood. I think he was more in shock than anything.”

Rick and Mary Snyder of Cumberland, Maine, were sitting directly in front of the Keanes when the ball slammed into Box 29.

“I saw a white blur getting bigger and bigger,” said Mary Snyder.

“It whizzed right between out heads,” said her husband. “I heard the ball hit and you could tell that sound. Then Rick Miller looked up and the next thing we knew they were passing the kid over the rail.”

Mark Godaire of Chicopee, sitting in the row behind the Keanes, said, “I heard a crack that sounded like a cheekbone breaking.”

“It was the most dramatic immediate bleeding we’ve had,” said Dr. Pappas.

Rice played the remainder of the game wearing a blood-stained uniform. The box score says he was 1 for 4 with two RBIs and grounded into two double plays, but the heart says he had one of his best days ever.

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