Taking One for The Team

Chip GreeneStarred Page By Chip Greene, 2nd May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

An examination of hit batsmen in baseball. A personal experience about how I thought I killed a batter with a pitched ball.

Hit by pitch

In baseball parlance, "Taking one for the team," means getting hit by a pitch when you could have gotten out of the way. This is especially effective when the bases are loaded. A batter who is hit by a pitch with the bases loaded gets credited with an RBI and the team scores a run. Painful but, profitable.
I see it all the time in Major-League Baseball. Some batters are just tough as nails. When the pitch comes in and they know it's going to hit them they don't even flinch. They just let the ball hit them and take first base. In these cases the pitch usually hits them in an area where they won't be seriously injured. Like the fat part of the upper arm, the upper part of the leg or the butt. I've even seen batters just tuck their chin at a pitch going straight for their head and let the ball strike their helmet. The batters helmets these days are a lot more protective than those of the past.
Sometimes a batter is hit accidentally. Other times it's deliberate.

On the other end

I've seen the telltale mark of a baseball's laces embedded in the flesh a fellow player. Stings like hell! I was hit by a pitch many times while playing baseball. I always tried to get out of the way. I never suffered a serious injury as a result. I also never deliberately threw at an opposing batter. I figured the worst I can do to him was to strike him out.
I was once on the delivery and of a hit batsman. It hurt me more than any time that I was on the receiving end.

I knew I had him!

I played for the Ted Williams Camp All-Stars. One summer's evening when I was 16 we made the trip from Lakeville on the Cape and went to Waltham, Massachusetts to play a team in the Lou Gehrig League. The game was a real treat for us because it was played under the lights. I got the start. I was doing well with my three pitches. A fastball, a 12-6 curveball and a roundhouse curveball. My fastball tailed a lot. My 12-6 curveball went in and dropped about 6 inches straight down. My round house curveball would begin by going at a right-handed hitters head and end up low on the outside corner of the strike zone.
In about the third inning a right-handed hitter stepped into the batter's box. I threw him a wicked roundhouse curve. In his effort to get out of the way he ended up sitting in the dirt. The pitch ended up on the outside corner of the plate. Strike one! I threw him another. He sat down in the dirt again. The ball arched over the outside corner again. Strike two! Now I knew I had him. But, I wasn't going to throw the same pitch three times in a row. I figured I'd throw him a high tight fastball which he of course would swing at and miss. Strike three!

He dropped like a ton of bricks

So, I let loose with a high tight fastball and, well, the thing just got away from me. The kid never moved a muscle as it hit him squarely in the left temple. The batting helmets in those days didn't have that big protective flap covering the ears. His helmet flew off and it sounded like I'd hit a watermelon. He dropped like a ton of bricks. When he hit the ground he brought his hands up and clutched either side of his head. His body was arched up so that only his head and his feet were touching the ground. He let out a howl like he'd been shot. I thought I'd killed him. He had to be carried off the field and did not return. I was done too, as after that I couldn't find the strike zone save my life. I was soon pulled from the game by my manager.

I was the one who flinched!

After the game I met my dad on the sidelines. He'd made the short trip up the highway from Needham to see me pitch. There was another man with him. My father introduced us. He was the father of the kid I thought I'd killed. They just happened sitting next to each other in the stands. My father commented that when it happened he told this man that I was finished. My father knew only too well.
Then the kid I thought I'd killed walked over. I was relieved to see him alive. We shook hands and I asked him if he was okay. He said he was fine, no bad aftereffects. He added that I had one hell of a curveball. Then he said he was going to be damned if he'd let me sit him down in the dirt a third time. I nodded and said the pitch just got away from me. He said that he thought for sure that I throw him another curveball. That's why he never even flinched.
I was the one who flinched! He truly had taken one for the team.

Photo credits

Tony Conigliaro

A baseball bites

Sitting in the dirt

Hit in the head

I beaned him!


Baseball, Beanballs, Hit Batsmen, Lakeville, Needham, Ted Williams Camp, Waltham

Meet the author

author avatar Chip Greene
I am a retired police officer, baseball enthusiast, political junkie, and published writer.
My articles will focus on crime, politics, and baseball.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
2nd May 2015 (#)

I'm glad for both of you that he survived.

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author avatar Retired
3rd May 2015 (#)

Just 5 days ago, Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley caught the ball with his cheek. You've gotta love the game to accept the risk that goes along with pitching.

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