• 8-Year Old Suffers Fatal Injury On Baseball Field

    Posted by on July 19th, 2013 · Comments (7)

    Every baseball parents nightmare. Via the Indianapolis Star:

    The death this week of an 8-year-old Union City [Indiana] boy hit by a baseball during an all-star team practice has left a small community in stunned grief.

    Dylan Williams was hit in the head by a ball Tuesday and brought to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, where he died Wednesday after his family opted to have him taken off life support.

    Union City Mayor Bryan Conklin had to compose himself several times as he talked Thursday about Dylan’s death.

    “It’s probably one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard,” Conklin said in a telephone interview. His voice cracked; he stopped, then apologized.

    He has two children, he said, and they’re older, but … he was imagining the pain of Dylan’s parents.

    “For a kid to be playing something he likes to do, and then … it’s just … heart-breaking.”

    Union City, 95 miles northeast of Indianapolis, has a population of about 5,000, Conklin said, and many residents are connected. He used to work with Dylan’s grandfather; another city employee worked for his grandmother, and “everybody just knows everybody,” Conklin said.

    Discussions have begun about when and how the city might hold a remembrance or memorial event for Dylan, but nothing is firm, the mayor said.

    Michael Fulk, all-star coordinator with the Union City Baseball Boosters, said no decisions had been made about whether to play for the rest of the season. Union City’s teams were scheduled for a tournament this weekend, but things are up in the air, he said.

    Counselors are being made available for children and their families, he said.

    An autopsy Thursday by the Marion County coroner’s office showed the cause of Dylan’s death was “complications of blunt force trauma” to the right side of his head and neck.

    Dylan’s father, Erick Williams, was coaching at the time and saw his son get hit, he told Dayton, Ohio, television station WHIO-TV.

    “He was playing first base and they went to throw a ball to him and he wasn’t really looking, and to me it looked like it hit him in the side of the neck and he just dropped to the ground,” Williams told the TV station.

    I have lost count, as a Little League coach, how many times I have warned kids about NEVER throwing a ball to someone who is not looking and ready to catch it. Of course, I have never warned them that it may lead to a fatality. More so, I have preached that it could lead to injuries to the mouth, nose and eyes. (In 1974, when I was 11, someone clocked me with a throw that I didn’t see and I lost an adult tooth and required major work to some others. Therefore, I speak from experience.)

    That said, to be candid, there are some kids who are in Little League who have close to zero business being on the field – and are likely there solely because their parents just signed them up – and they are not paying attention, more times than not; or, they just don’t have the skills to catch a ball thrown by someone else, their age, with decent to advanced skills. And, as a coach, I’ve had to talk to parents about why I fear their kids playing a position where balls are coming in that direction – and why I often won’t allow their kid to be in that spot.

    However, in this case, this was an all-star team practice. So, I doubt it was a matter of skills and more just a case of an accident.

    My heart goes out to everyone impacted by this tragedy – both the family who suffered the loss and to the boy (and his family) who threw the ball. (I assume it was a player who threw it – and not a coach.) I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to be someone who was part of this situation.

    Comments on 8-Year Old Suffers Fatal Injury On Baseball Field

    1. #15
      July 19th, 2013 | 12:07 pm

      Really sad story.

      Steve,
      I’ve also had to have that conversation with parents, although it was in softball with girls. A few parents decided to insert their 12 year- olds as rookies among girls with 5+ years experience. Bad move. Kids were getting bullets hit at them, even playing deep roving right field. We had one of these late-starting girls get hit by a line drive while she was on base. Caught her square in the face and bloodied her pretty badly. Ended her “career” in a traumatic fashion. Now, I do think getting a few bumps and bruises on the ballfield is a good thing for both boys and girls. There is some needed toughening that comes from getting nicked up and learning to shaking it off. But, don’t just roll a kid out their and expose them to injury. The parent needs to be objective about little Johnny or Janie. If they are late starters or behind the curve… grab a glove and have a catch with them every night and hit ‘em some extra grounders before or after practice.

      There is no antidote for a freak accident, but if you are going to put your kid out there, you need to take on responsibility for regularly playing catch with them on the side, slowly edging up the intensity, and making sure they are aware that a baseball is essentially a rock.

    2. July 19th, 2013 | 12:52 pm

      It’s also not fair to the kids, who have been playing, to be out there with a newbie/late-starter.

      I’ve seen it with my own kid, playing SS. There have been times where I wondered what he was doing there with a throw. (He throws hard.) And, afterwards, he’s told me “If it was anyone else but ‘so-and-so’ out there, I would have gunned it. But, I knew he would never catch it and I didn’t want to hurt him. So, I lobbed it.”

      I’ve even talked with some other dads who have pulled their kid from Little League and/or rec leagues, and only had them play on travel teams because the level of ability is so spread out on the teams.

      Of course, the problem is the age rules. And, I have seen the other side of it too – where the league grants some exception because a 4th grader is playing for the first time in his life…and they have him out there with 2nd graders…and then a lot of the 2nd grade parents are screaming because there’s some kid out there twice the size of their kid…until they actually seem him play and then figure it out.

      Back to this story, the kid was eight. That’s pretty young. Our league doesn’t even have 8-year olds playing on All-Star teams. Maybe that was part of the issue?

    3. Raf
      July 19th, 2013 | 9:31 pm

      A shame what happened to this young kid. Every parent’s worst nightmare, I suppose. Little guys have the attention span of a gnat at that age, which makes it tough.

      Steve L. wrote:

      n 1974, when I was 11, someone clocked me with a throw that I didn’t see and I lost an adult tooth and required major work to some others.

      Jeez, how hard was the throw? Never had the misfortune of having that happen to me. For some reason, I’m reminded of the Anthony Molina incident.
      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18208

      When I first heard of the incident, I thought that Christensen lobbed the ball at him or threw it in his general direction, to let him know he was there. I didn’t realize that it was an actual pitch thrown at him.

      I always tell people to pay attention while on the field, because you never know what can happen with an errant throw, grounder or fielder.

      #15 wrote:

      If they are late starters or behind the curve… grab a glove and have a catch with them every night and hit ‘em some extra grounders before or after practice.

      Many people don’t understand how much something so simple helps. And it’s also bonding time with your child. There’s no downside to putting extra work in.

      Baseball and softball are games where if you don’t pick things up quickly, you’ll get left behind. I do love the “lightbulb moments” where people put it all together.

    4. ctkaiser
      July 20th, 2013 | 9:12 pm

      What a tragedy. Fortunately never had anything close to that experience. I did see a situation that could have led to an injury. We arrived early to baseball practice when my son was around 11. We were warming up by throwing when another kid about the same age walked in and raised his glove to be thrown to and I obliged by throwing form about 10 ft a fairly soft lob which was heading right at his head. He did not immediately react and finally last minute his glove moved in front of his face knocking the ball away. First time player at 11. I thought about it later and remembered the words of one of the official coaches re: limiting this kind of activity to your own kid due to rules, insurance, lawsuits… In the Indiana situation I feel for the other kids especially the kid who threw the ball. No matter what decision they make as far as playing it’s just not going to be the same.

    5. July 20th, 2013 | 9:52 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Jeez, how hard was the throw?

      True story: The kid was maybe 10 feet away from me and he threw the ball as hard as he could. He was maybe a year older than me. I had my head turned and wasn’t looking at him.

      Why would someone do something like that? In the years that past, I always chalked it up to a kid just doing something stupid. The kid lived near me and was a tad strange.

      Actually, in the Spring of 2012, I saw another kid do it – at least something similar, at a Little League practice. His teammate, who was almost his friend – they had known each other since pre-school and had play dates – was standing maybe 20 feet from him and he whipped the ball at his head when he wasn’t looking. Like me, the kid took it in the mouth. Luckily, he did not lose any teeth. He did get a cut lip.

      As the season when on, I noticed that this kid had an evil side. He would trip people, threw his teammate’s cap into a tree where he couldn’t reach it, stuff like that.

      Some kids are stupid. Some are bad. Some are both, I guess?

    6. July 20th, 2013 | 9:57 pm

      @ ctkaiser:
      Scary, right? Truth be told, I am sure that some of the kids who I have coached think that my arm sucks – because I often throw the ball short to them or over the head. Why? The fear that they cannot or will not catch my throw. Being someone who played, it’s automatic for me to aim at the chest when throwing. And, if I’m throwing right, most times I’m pretty much centering in on the neck area, high chest. But, with some kids, I’m afraid of hurting them. So, I sometimes pull the ball down, short, or, I lob it over their head, because, as I am throwing, my head is thinking – if you throw like you normally do, and he misses it, he’s nailed.

      Part of me cannot wait until I am coaching kids over the age of 12 or 13, so, I can just throw and not have to think/worry at the same time.

    7. Raf
      July 20th, 2013 | 10:39 pm

      @ Steve L.:
      I don’t know how far you are while throwing, but tossing changeups/palmballs works wonders. Extra finger(s) on the baseball to take something off the throw.

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