armchair cultural observation since 1995

Death by baseball


Outside of a bit character I needed to kill off in my 10-year-old unfinished novel and the death by baseball that occurs in one of my favorite books, A Prayer For Owen Meany, I didn’t realize baseballs were in the real world responsible for the deaths of hundreds until reading about a new book, 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.

Here’s the description:

Despite whizzing fastballs and screaming line drives, baseball today is not especially dangerous. But over the game’s history, hundreds of players, coaches, and spectators have died at the ballpark.

This ground-breaking study covers nearly 150 years of game-related fatalities. Providing the known details for each death, the authors also identify contributing factors and discuss changes to playing rules, protective equipment, crowd control, stadium structure, and the grounds themselves. Chapter topics include pitched- and batted-ball fatalities, weather and field condition accidents, structural failures, violence or risky behavior fatalities, and deaths from natural causes.

It’s bad enough being at a sporting event when someone dies of a cause unrelated to the sport — a guy watching his granddaughter play volleyball had a heart attack two rows behind me when I was in college — so a 264-account of deaths by baseball might be a bit too much to handle.

Exactly how does someone doing this kind of research not come off extremely odd and slightly psychotic anyway?

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