Woman suffers serious injuries in Fenway incident
This story was reported by Peter Abraham, Michael Vega, Alex Speier, and Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondents Matthew MacCormack and Wayne Epps Jr. It was written by Andersen.
A woman suffered serious injuries after she was struck in the face by the shard from a broken bat that flew into the stands in front of horrified fans during the Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Friday night, officials said.
With the fans enjoying the game on a cool evening, and their team leading 1-0 in the second inning, Oakland Athletics batter Brett Lawrie hit a ball and shattered his bat, leaving only the handle in his hands while the barrel of it went screaming into the crowd. It struck the woman, who was sitting with a man and her son near the visitors’ dugout on the third base side, and her screams could immediately be heard by fans and even those listening to the game on the radio. Authorities have described the injuries as life-threatening.
Paramedics and police rushed to the seats as the game was stopped and fans covered their mouths and either stared at the commotion, or looked away intentionally.
A Boston police officer scooped up the young boy who was with her and shielded his eyes from the scene, and players from both teams stood outside their dugouts and peered into the stands with grave expressions on their faces. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was seen down on the field with the emergency workers.
After several minutes of medical attention, the woman was placed on a stretcher, with blood visible on much of her clothing, and wheeled behind home plate, in front of the Red Sox dugout, and out of the park, screaming in pain while thousands looked on with concern.
As she was rushed off the field, fans stood and applauded softly. The game resumed less than a minute after her gurney left the field.
In a video recorded by a fan at the game, and posted on the website Deadspin, the victim’s wails could be heard as EMTs rushed her toward a tunnel underneath Fenway.
The incident occurred around 7:40 p.m. as the woman sat in the second row at the ballpark, between home plate and the visitors dugout, just beyond the protective screen that shields the plate area, according to police and witnesses.
The woman, who was not identified, was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said Boston police Officer Rachel McGuire, a department spokeswoman. There was no word on her condition late Friday night.
At 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Beth Israel spokeswoman Jennifer Kritz said the hospital is not providing any information regarding the condition of the woman at this time.
The team’s principal owner, John Henry, also owns the Globe.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game that the incident was “a scary moment.”
“Our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman who was struck with the bat, her, and her family,” Farrell said. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ballgame to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately with how close our stands are to the field of action . . . an accident like this tonight, it’s certainly disturbing.”
A security guard who witnessed the accident said the woman suffered serious injuries to her face. A boy sitting near the woman was shaken up, according to the guard.
Lawrie said after the game that he did not initially realize the severity of the woman’s injuries because he was running to first base when the bat sailed into the stands. He glanced back briefly toward the stands while running out his hit.
“Then in between innings is when things kind of got serious and I realized there was a bit of an issue,” Lawrie said. “Hopefully everything is OK and she’s doing all right.. . . That was just unfortunate right there, no doubt.”
Asked if anything can prevent such injuries, Lawrie said, “The only thing there, you’ve got limited netting here in Boston. When you’re behind home plate and you’re along the third base side and first base side, you’ve really got to be heads-up for foul balls, anything coming into the stands, because it’s so close there’s really no time to react.
“You try to keep her in your thoughts,” he said. “Hopefully everything is all right.”
Red Sox centerfielder Mookie Betts said after the game that he heard the woman screaming and turned away at the gruesome sight of her injury.
“You never want to see anything like that,” Betts said. “You always try to focus on the game, but it’s always scary when something like that happens. Hopefully we can find some way to prevent those things but accidents happen. I just hope she’s OK.”
A number of fans also witnessed the accident, including Alex Merlas of Brookline.
“Brett Lawrie hit the ball and the bat snapped in half near the end of the bat,” Merlas said. “It hit on the forehead to the top of the head . . . it was a blunt trauma and it was a lot of blood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much blood.”
Arvald Karp of Boston said: “She seemed in shock, she was not aware of what was going on, pushing help away. She was pushing the towel away, and she was out of it.”
“They had so many EMTs around her face and chest area,” said Mike Pelosi of Wilimington. “You could barely see her.”
Deven O’Brien, of Lunenburg, said the bat flew into the stands at a dangerously high speed.
“People were ducking,” he said.
Bats flying into the stands is not a new issue for Major League Baseball. After several similar incidents, the league studied the issue in 2008 and made changes to bat regulations. Since 2009, the league says multi-piece bat failures are down about 50 percent.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner echoed the thoughts of his manager.
“Just terrible,” he said of the incident. “My prayers go out.”