Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Death at the Ballpark

A new book chronicles 850 deaths at ballparks over the past 150 years, and has an excellent review of it.

I'm sure all of us have seen near-misses at games... a fan isn't paying attention as a foul ball screams past, a first base coach gets nearly decapitated by a line drive. This book seems to bring it all home. (It turns out that errant line drives and fastballs aren't the most frequent culprit in on-field deaths.)

Here's the most improbably tragic story:

During a 1949 amateur game in Florida, the third baseman, shortstop, and second baseman were all killed by a single lightning bolt, which struck the backstop, then shot around the infield as though completing a double play.

The book obviously wont appeal to everyone, but at least the Slate review is worth a look.

Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities of Players, Other Personnel and Spectators in Amateur and Professional Baseball, 1862-2007 by Robert M. Gorman and David Weeks