PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One of the best plays over the weekend at a Pirates Spring Training game actually came from a fan.
When a bat slipped out of Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz’s hands and flew into the stands, Shaun Cunningham threw out his arm to cover his son. The picture was posted by Tribune-Review photographer Christopher Horner.
— Christopher Horner (@Hornerfoto1) March 6, 2016
“It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about it. Once I realized that, in fact, it was heading for us, specifically my son, I just threw my arm out and tried to block it the best that I could”, said Shaun.
Cunningham and his son, Landon, had gone to the Pirates-Braves game as a birthday present for Landon, who turns 9-years-old next week.
Shaun said, “It was the first time Landon had been to professional baseball game, I was waiting until he was a little older, and we were sitting there watching the game and he had asked to borrow my phone so he could take a couple of pictures to send to his mom and sister.”
While Shaun and Landon were looking at pictures, Shaun suddenly saw the bat coming right at them.
However, Landon didn’t.
“I was just about to send it when I felt something hit me and I didn’t even know what it was. It went flying and it hit my shoulder”, said Landon.
While Landon did get hit in the shoulder, it was his dad who took the brunt of the bat’s force, but both say they’re no worse for wear.
Shaun said his arm is a little discolored and bruised but getting better. “It’s a little tender but nothing crazy. I’ve had worse”, Shaun said.
Landon said, “One minute later I felt good because I have a body of iron. I’ve been hit with so much stuff that I’m iron – trust me!”
As for Ortiz? The Cunningham’s say they’ve heard he wants to reach out to them, but they don’t want him to think another thing about it.
Shaun said, “It was an accident, things happen. I wouldn’t want it to affect his play. He’s a good ball player and he’s got a shot. I want him to not worry about it. This kid’s fine. He’s tough.”
Tough and now a star.
Landon said, “I feel like I’m gonna be famous.”
Because of incidents like this, Major League Baseball has asked teams to install more protective netting in stadiums.
The Pirates tell KDKA McKechnie Field and PNC Park already meet the league’s netting recommendations.
This happened at the Braves’ Spring Training stadium in Orlando. The father and son were able to keep the baseball bat.