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Fan hit by ball at Fenway is out of hospital

Fans called for medical attention after fan was bloodied by a foul line drive in the fifth inning Friday at Fenway. Bary Chin/Globe Staff

Stephanie Wapenski estimates she has been to Fenway Park at least 150 times. Last year, she got engaged there while thousands of people watched a video board as her boyfriend, a Yankees fan, proposed.

Friday night, Wapenski was back in the spotlight at Fenway, but for a very different reason.

She was struck between the eyebrows by a foul ball off the bat of New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius during the fifth inning. Wapenski, 36, said she saw the ball heading toward her seat along the third base line, but did not have time to act.

“It was like it knew who I was and had a vendetta,” she said Saturday while on the way back to her home in Branford, Conn. “It came right for me.”


Her injury came five weeks after a fan was seriously injured at Fenway Park by a shattered baseball bat.

After the ball hit her, Wapenski said, she saw blood on her clothes and heard her fiancé, Matt Fraenza, ask for help. A fan, who identified himself as an emergency medical technician, told her to apply pressure to the wound, she said.

“I didn’t scream. I didn’t cry. I didn’t yell. I just . . . knew that I needed to stop the bleeding,” she said.

Stephanie Wapenski, with her daughter Delaney Fraenza, after she was hit by a baseball at Fenway Park on Friday night.Handout

Wapenski’s father, Stephen, 69, was watching the game at home in Florida and saw the commotion in the area where his daughter was seated. His son later told him Wapenski had been hit.

“I had the worse feeling. I had chills,” he said. “I felt so helpless because I’m down here in Florida. She’s 36, but she’s still my baby girl.”

Fans quickly came to Wapenski’s aid; one man stripped off his shirt so it could be used to help stem the bleeding on her forehead.

“Everyone in the section stood up and turned around looking for some sort of medical personnel,” said John Regan, 29, a South Boston resident who was seated three rows behind Wapenski. “She looked to be in pretty rough shape.”


Red Sox pitcher Robbie Ross Jr., who was on the mound, said he’s glad Wapenski is OK.

“I saw the ball go into the stands and I knew it hit her hard,” he said. “There wasn’t much time to get out of the way.”

Two T-shirts were passed to her and Yankees trainers sent ice packs into the stands. Wapenski said she walked a short distance to a wheelchair, and then was examined by medical personnel at the park. Gregorius quickly sent one of his bats into the stands for her.

“That was thoughtful,” she said. “I was being wheeled out. There were a lot of people clapping and yelling out, ‘I hope you feel better.’ It was a nice feeling.”

She was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she received 35 to 40 stitches and underwent a CAT scan. She was released about 2 a.m. Saturday, Wapenski said.

She said she experienced some nausea and feels stiff and sore. She plans to watch for any symptoms of a concussion over the next few days.

Her wound, Wapenski said, is “like a third eye.”

In all of her trips to Fenway, said Wapenski, who grew up in Taunton, she only came close to a foul ball one other time before Friday night. Usually, she sits in the grandstands or a standing-only area where “no one can tell me to sit down.”


Wapenski said she and Fraenza got the tickets to the game through “dumb luck,” and were enjoying a date night while her brother watched their baby daughter, Delaney.

She called medical personnel at Fenway “amazing,” and said she was invited back to the park for a game.

A Red Sox spokesman said Wapenski was conscious throughout the incident, but the team representative did not respond to requests for further comment. Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry also owns The Boston Globe.

Wapenski’s injury was the second such incident at Fenway Park this season. During a June 5 game against the Oakland Athletics, Tonya Carpenter, 44, of Paxton, was struck in the face by a piece of broken bat while sitting behind the plate, just to the left of protective netting.

She was hospitalized for eight days while being treated for life-threatening injuries.

After Carpenter was hurt, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was hopeful measures could be taken to improve fan safety.

The issue of whether the solution is more netting, which has been controversial for years, reemerged after the Friday evening incident.

Outside Fenway on Saturday, the prospect of having extended netting divided fans.

Marc Keller, 45, of Kingfield, Maine, said the amount of netting at Fenway is “effective,” and there is no need to add more.

“When you go to a baseball game, there’s always a chance of a foul ball,” he said, adding, “You just have to pay attention.”


Frank Johnston, 56, of Brockton, said he favors extended netting.

“Unfortunately people aren’t quick enough to react to some of the line drives,” he said.

The nets are made of thin strands, he said, and wouldn’t detract from the park’s aesthetics.

“It really doesn’t block the view,” he said.

His wife, Beverly Johnston, 55, agreed.

“If people don’t like the netting they can sit somewhere else,” she said.

But Lynn Byrnes, 54, of Dover, Del., said the limited amount of netting adds to the feeling of nostalgia at Fenway.

“It actually says on the ticket, watch at your own risk,” she said as her husband pointed to the fine print on her stub. “If you get hit by a bat or ball, that’s your fault.”

Globe correspondent Katherine Landergan contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@ globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.