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Dodger Pitcher Ishii Suffers Skull Fracture From Comebacker Off His Head
AP/ESPN ^ | 9-8-02

Posted on 09/08/2002 9:58:50 PM PDT by tallhappy

Ishii conscious as he's taken away by ambulance

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie left-hander Kazuhisa Ishii left the game Sunday in an ambulance with a small skull fracture and a concussion after getting struck flush on the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston's Brian Hunter.

In the fourth inning of the Astros' 6-2 victory, Hunter drove a 3-2 pitch so hard off the left side of Ishii's head that it ricocheted all the way to the backstop behind home plate for a run-scoring double.

''I saw every part of it. As soon as I hit the ball, my natural reaction was to say, 'Heads up!' '' Hunter said. ''You never want to see anybody get hurt -- whether it's your team or the other team.

''Being a line drive-type hitter, you're trying to stay up the middle more. But I would rather hit into a line-drive double play than to have something like that happen.''

Manager Jim Tracy, assistant trainer Matt Wilson and paramedics rushed to the pitcher's aid. Ishii, who turns 29 Monday, was placed in a neck brace, then on a stretcher and driven off through the center-field gate.

''When I got to the mound, the first thing I saw was blood -- which scared me to death,'' Tracy said. ''But basically, it was a surface cut just above his forehead.

''They termed it a Grade 2 concussion. I knew he could hear voices by the way he was responding. He told the guys at the hospital that he never saw the ball.''

Dodgers spokesman John Olguin reported that Ishii had feeling and movement in all of his limbs and was fully conscious when he was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for X-rays and further tests. He will remain hospitalized for at least 24 hours for observation by a neurologist.

''It's scary. It's not something I particularly wanted to see,'' Astros closer Billy Wagner said. ''I know what it's like to have something like that happen to me. Every time you go back out there, you think about that situation with every pitch you throw.

The incident gave Wagner flashbacks to July 15, 1998 at Arizona, when he was struck on the left side of the head behind the ear by a line drive from Kelly Stinnett. The impact left him with a concussion and vertigo.

Right before Hunter came to the plate, Ishii was booed by the Dodger Stadium crowd of 42,934 after issuing consecutive one-out walks to Jason Lane and pitcher Roy Oswalt with the Astros leading 2-0 on home runs by Craig Biggio and Hunter.

''What makes you really mad is that he's out there battling and the fans are booing him because things aren't going his way -- and then that happens to him,'' Wagner said.

It was the second frightening scene in two weeks at Dodger Stadium. On Aug. 26, Alex Cora left in an ambulance with a concussion after colliding headfirst with Arizona shortstop Tony Womack's knee while trying to steal second base. Cora missed two games.

''Bad things came to my head today,'' Cora said. ''I just started praying and doing the same things my teammates did for me two weeks ago. Seeing it from this side, I know it's hard to see the brace and the stretcher and the ambulance.

''But I know he's going to be fine. In both situations, you've got to tip your hats to the medical staff.''

Ishii has a 14-10 record -- the most victories on the Dodgers staff -- and a 4.27 ERA. Kevin Beirne replaced Ishii on the mound after a 14-minute delay.

''The prayers from our team definitely go out to Ishii and his family and to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization,'' Hunter said. ''I hope he has a speedy recovery so he can come back and help the team.''


TOPICS: Sports
KEYWORDS: baseball; dodgers; ishii
I was at this game today, and I was seriously worried he was gonna be dead.

I was surprised no one had posted this.

Pitchers get hit with comebackers a fair amount, but never have I seen or even heard of a hot smash line drive directly hitting the pitcher's head like this.

1 posted on 09/08/2002 9:58:50 PM PDT by tallhappy
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To: tallhappy; BluesDuke
I saw some of the replay on SportsCenter. I noticed on a replay that it looked like the batter, as he was running to first slowed down and tried to signal a "time-out", like he was in a football or basketball game.

It looked like he didn't want to run to first and he kind of kept stopping and starting.

I was wondering when the umpire called time. It looked to me like he stopped the play, but after quite a few seconds. I think he should have immediately stopped play and called for help. (well, duh, I have the benefit of replays, etc. Maybe the umpire didn't realize what had happened.) And the batter running towards first was wondering the same thing.

2 posted on 09/08/2002 11:17:31 PM PDT by Flashlight
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To: tallhappy
Anyone know how he's doing?
3 posted on 09/09/2002 12:43:06 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler
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To: tallhappy
"He told the guys at the hospital that he never saw the ball."

I saw the "highlight" and a camera caught Ishii react as if flinching or bracing for impact, but he could not duck or get his glove up in time. It would not surprise me if he lost some memory of time before being struck.

4 posted on 09/09/2002 10:55:29 AM PDT by irgbar-man
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To: irgbar-man
Yeah. Or it was pure reflex.

There is some controversy now. This game was started at 4:10 PM. It was dekayed because of some triathelon event or something.

Some people are saying the shadow that always falls between the mound and the plate in games with these starting times contributed to Ishii not seeing the ball.

I have heard some on sports talk saying these late afternoon start times should be banned.

5 posted on 09/09/2002 11:31:25 AM PDT by tallhappy
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To: tallhappy
This same thing happened in a Rangers game against the Mariners some time around 1991 or 1992. I don't think that pitcher ever pitched again. Does anyone remember that or have any info on the player? It happened at the old Arlington Stadium and the ball came right off the guy's head and went either into the 1st base dugout or into the crowd. It shook up the guy that hit it pretty bad too.

I wish college baseball would go to wood bats exclusively. The ball coming off aluminum will kill someone sooner or later.

6 posted on 09/09/2002 11:46:22 AM PDT by 1L
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To: tallhappy
Pitchers get hit with comebackers a fair amount, but never have I seen or even heard of a hot smash line drive directly hitting the pitcher's head like this.

There was Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie, a couple of years ago.

7 posted on 09/09/2002 12:55:47 PM PDT by TrappedInLiberalHell
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To: Jeff Chandler
Surgery today -- bone chips removed from his nasal cavity. He's eating, talking staying in the hospital for a few days.
http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/0909/1429473.html
8 posted on 09/09/2002 2:02:24 PM PDT by irgbar-man
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To: irgbar-man
I saw the "highlight" ...

Did you notice how long it took for the umpires to call "time"? I'm not sure if they waited until the play was completed totally or not, but they did wait.

If I was umpiring, I have no doubt that the second I saw that hit I'd be up with my arms waving calling "ball is dead, time out" and yelling for some help to come, then sorting out the baserunners later.

As I said in my previous post, it looked like the batter was wondering the same thing on his way to first. I couldn't believe when I read he made it to second base on that play.

9 posted on 09/09/2002 2:53:10 PM PDT by Flashlight
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To: Flashlight
`The fortunate thing is he's doing OK,'' Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said before Monday night's game in San Francisco. ``He's out of harm's way. I never want to go through seeing that again. It's the scariest thing I've ever seen.''

Aside from a small prayer that Ishii would recover, about the first thought I had when hearing about the incident (I saw replays enough later in the evening; I missed the game, alas) was Herb Score in 1957 - the Cleveland Indians pitcher, often described as "Sandy Koufax before Koufax was Sandy Koufax," was hit in the face by a liner off Yankee infielder Gil McDougald's bat, smashing his eye socket. (McDougald, who was horrified immediately by what happened to Score, took an unconscionable amount of abuse over the incident, the abusers forgetting conveniently that he got into and stayed in contact with Score's family while the pitcher was in the hospital and beyond; Score himself never blamed McDougald, but that didn't stop the idiot brigades from hounding McDougald so that within three seasons he lost his taste for playing baseball. In a sad irony, the last I heard was McDougald nearly losing his own eyesight as he aged.) Score sat out the rest of the season.

The myth says his eyesight was damaged enough that it crippled his pitching career. But Score himself says otherwise - like many a pitcher subconsciously thinking he needs a mechanical adjustment, Score unwittingly altered his pitching mechanics the following season and tore an elbow tendon, rushed himself back, and that - not the eye injury - wrecked his pitching career. Not that he feels robbed. To this day, Score believes himself the most blessed of men (he made one final comeback with the White Sox, under his old Indian manager Al Lopez, which failed). After he retired, he joined the Indians' broadcasting team and remains there to this day, so far as I know, almost more beloved on the air than he was in his brief moment in that sweet spot in time on the mound. His two full seasons did suggest a great, maybe even a Hall of Fame career ahead of him.

Last I heard, Kaz Ishii underwent surgery to remove chips from his nasal area, and his wife flew in from their native Japan to be with him. Prayer kit working for him.
10 posted on 09/09/2002 8:21:07 PM PDT by BluesDuke
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To: tallhappy
This got major coverage in Japan. The Japan Times had a huge color picture of Ishii prone and holding his head. I couldn't find a URL though.

Right before Hunter came to the plate, Ishii was booed by the Dodger Stadium crowd of 42,934 after issuing consecutive one-out walks to Jason Lane and pitcher Roy Oswalt with the Astros leading 2-0 on home runs by Craig Biggio and Hunter.

Welcome to Los Angeles.

11 posted on 09/10/2002 12:23:37 AM PDT by altair
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To: tallhappy
Some people are saying the shadow that always falls between the mound and the plate in games with these starting times contributed to Ishii not seeing the ball.

That could be.

I have heard some on sports talk saying these late afternoon start times should be banned.

That's probably not a bad idea. I was never fond of commuting in LA, but I despised commuting in twilight. Too dangerous for my tastes.

12 posted on 09/10/2002 12:25:53 AM PDT by altair
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To: BluesDuke
Interesting. There's an odd parallel to the Marichal/Roseboro story.
13 posted on 09/10/2002 12:34:21 AM PDT by altair
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To: tallhappy
Yahoo! News Photo Matches 1 - 18 of 18

Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii holds his forehead as he rolls in pain on the mound after getting hit by a line drive by Houston Astros' Brian Hunter during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was taken to the hospital. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 09 12:06 AM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii throws against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was hit by a line drive off the bat of Astros Brian Hunter in the fourth and was taken to the hospital. Ishii has a small skull fracture and will stay in the hospital overnight for observation. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 10:29 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Jim Colborn, center, look up as medical personel tend to injured pircher Kazuhisa Ishii during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was hit in the forehead by line drive off the bat of Hosuton Astros Brian Hunter and was taken to the hospital. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 9:57 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii is taken to the hospital after getting hit on the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston Astros Brian Hunter during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 9:30 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii holds his head after getting hit in the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston Astros Brian Hunter during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was taken to the hospital. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 9:32 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Jim Tracy, left, and catcher Chad Kreuter watch as medical personel tend to Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii after he was hit in the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston Astros Brian Hunter during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was taken to the hospital. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 9:37 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii lies on the ground with bloody forehead after getting hit by a line drive off the bat of Houston Astros Brian Hunter during the fourth inning Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, in Los Angeles. Ishii was taken to the hospital. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
- Sep 08 9:23 PM ET

14 posted on 09/10/2002 2:54:12 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: tallhappy
My prayers are with him. What a wicked hit.
15 posted on 09/10/2002 2:54:53 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: irgbar-man; All
Surgery makes sense. When people die from things like this is is usually from a fluid buildup on the brain.

As part of the surgery they put in a small metal plate (titanium). It's very small, a few millimeters square.

Some other related facts. September 9 )yesterday) was his birthday. His youngest child currently has chicken pox.

His wife and older daughter were at the game but did not see the play because they were in the bathroom.

16 posted on 09/10/2002 7:17:14 AM PDT by tallhappy
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To: altair
Interesting. There's an odd parallel to the Marichal/Roseboro story.

I see no such parallel, no disrespect intended to any of the parties. Unless, of course, you mean the scorn heaped on Gil McDougald after his liner drilled a hole in Herb Score's face. But there is no parallel even there: Both Kaz Ishii and Herb Score got smashed in the face by legitimately batted balls that could not possibly have been intended to injure either pitcher; John Roseboro got poleaxed over the head by an angered Juan Marichal during the Giant pitcher's time at bat in the third inning of a pennant race-heavy game in late August 1965.

But what on earth provoked the Marichal/Roseboro incident, especially since it was so out of character for either man? (Marichal was fabled as a good-natured fellow with a prankish personality - his favourite gag was said to be handing out perfume bottles spiked with stink bombs; Roseboro was known as a quiet soul with a gentle wit.) Well, I've told the story before but once more won't hurt anyone, God rest John Roseboro's soul.

Marichal's furnace got lit up while he batted in the third inning, after a) Roseboro threw a return ball to Sandy Koufax that damn near took Marichal's head off, and b) in full catching gear but holding his mask free in his hand, Roseboro in fact charged toward Marichal before the Giant pitcher swung the bat over his head. How's that again?

It happens to be true. You won't see that part in the two most famous images of the incident, but that is precisely how it happened. Earlier in the game, Marichal had brushed back a pair of plate-crowding Dodgers, Maury Wills and Ron Fairly. Big deal - that's baseball. Sandy Koufax, in kind (though his game was more to dismantle a batter by the sheer mastery of his pitching repertoire or, as Gene Mauch once said, to strip a batter naked at the plate), brushed Willie Mays back and, in the third inning, moved Marichal back off the plate a bit. Again: big deal - that's baseball.

Now, read very carefully: Roseboro, by his own subsequent admission, wanted one more pound of flesh from Marichal to send him a little message and, since Koufax wasn't exactly Mr. Intimidator (not in terms of chin music, anyway) on the mound, he decided to send the message himself. So he fumbled a Koufax pitch and retrieved it behind the catcher's box, then he threw it back to Koufax - damn near taking Marichal's head off. Marichal never saw the ball coming. Perhaps naturally enough, Juan was somewhere between shaken and infuriated by nearly getting skulled from behind. (Various Giant and Dodger players have since remembered Marichal screaming at Roseboro, "Why did you do that? Why did you do that?")

Roseboro had his catcher's mask off and in his hand and actually charged a bit toward Marichal, who probably feared in the heat of those moments (you'd find very few batters who wouldn't be unnerved and maybe slightly enraged at a catcher - throwing from behind, leaving them no room to duck or otherwise defend themselves - firing a hard throw just next to their heads) that a man who'd just tried to skull him from behind with a high hard one to the head might even swing the heavy mask at him. And that was when he swung his bat over Roseboro's head in that momentary but long enough blind rage.

You won't see that in the most famous film image of the incident: Marichal's bat waving back for a possible one more swing as a swarm of Giants and Dodgers surround him and Roseboro. Nor in the most famous still photo of the incident: a visibly shaken Koufax trying to knock the bat out of Marichal's hands without it hitting his left hand, as Roseboro is falling away from Marichal. But that is in fact what happened. There's no excuse on earth for what Marichal did, of course - there can never be, and Marichal knew it - but it is long past time to put to rest the mythology of the incident and let the truth breathe. And there is no parallel between that grotesquery and what happened to either Herb Score or Kazuhisa Ishii.
17 posted on 09/10/2002 6:10:12 PM PDT by BluesDuke
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To: BluesDuke
I see no such parallel

O.K. My mistake.

18 posted on 09/10/2002 6:36:03 PM PDT by altair
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To: altair
No, you didn't make a mistake. You simply didn't know. Not your fault - an awful lot of the Marichal/Roseboro story is too long forgotten. You can't be blamed for what you were not informed before. :)
19 posted on 09/10/2002 6:46:58 PM PDT by BluesDuke
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To: dennisw

i agree with you guys that college baseball should begin to make the change towards using wood bats... i was pitching against UT San Antonio at the end of April and i was hit in the mouth with a comebacker.. i usually throw the ball anywhere between 90-92 mph and i threw a 3-1 fastball that came back and knocked me down. I broke both of my jaws, my nose, and lost two teeth. Its a scary experience...


20 posted on 06/28/2006 1:32:00 AM PDT by SFAbaseball
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To: SFAbaseball

Very very nasty. Thank God that is rare


21 posted on 06/28/2006 2:57:15 AM PDT by dennisw (Confucius say man who go through turnstile sideways going to Bangkok.)
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