A horrible moment took place in Tampa just after 8 PM, as Jays starter J.A. Happ was hit in the left side of the head by a hard line drive off the bat of Desmond Jennings, and needed to be stretchered off the field. It looked and sounded about as ugly as you could imagine, and was frightening enough that the Blue Jays telecast didn’t show a replay until about ten minutes after the incident, and then did so only once.

Tropicana Field, as one could tell from the telecast, and as mentioned in the tweets of several reporters there, was eerily quiet during the scene, as paramedics rushed to Happ’s aid and helped him onto a stretcher and, after a long delay, off the field of play. The left-hander was conscious as he was taken out, but we only need to think back to Brandon McCarthy’s injury last summer to realize that the seriousness of the situation may not be so immediately evident, as the then-A’s pitcher underwent two hours of surgery to reliever cranial pressure following a similar incident– one that he was able to walk off the field under his own power from.

Hopefully the response today in Tampa was extra cautious precisely for that reason, but for the time being we don’t know. If you’re God-fearing person, this would seem to be an excellent time to employ the power of prayer. Our thoughts are with J.A. and his family, and we will continue to keep you updated on his condition as information becomes available.

8:28 PM Update

Shi Davidi tweets what, at this point, has to be considered a good sign:

8:40 PM Update

As noted in Brendan Kennedy’s quick reaction piece in the Toronto Star, Happ “offered a faint wave to the crowd, lifting his right hand slightly, as he left the field.”

Also, lots of talk on Twitter about the fact that the Rays runners were allowed to keep advancing while the ball was live– not, thankfully, because fans were upset about additional runs coming home, but because it appeared to impede trainers from dealing with the medical emergency, or at least confuse players who could have called them in more quickly. Every moment counts in a situation like that, and it would seem more than reasonable that MLB could figure a way to better handle it.

The protective head gear for pitchers that we’d heard so much after McCarthy’s incident, obviously, also needs to be made a greater priority. I mean, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to not campaigning about that stuff, but seriously… it needs to happen. Here is an example.

8:50 PM Update

Here’s a screen shot of Happ’s wave, via @CorkGaines, that I almost used at the top of this post and then decided not to. The sound of the ball striking his head, I’m told, made it particularly frightening. John Lott adds some details in a piece at the National Post, noting that the Jays training staff had to wait in foul ground for the play to stop before they could go and attend to him, and that it was clear at one point that Happ was bleeding, though “it was unclear whether the blood came from flesh wound or from inside his ear.”


Better news from a fan listening to the Rays broadcast:

9:10 PM Update

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet now has a post up about the incident as well, offering few new details for the time being, but he does include a few tweets from around baseball, including the one below from Amanda McCarthy, Brandon’s wife, who knows all too well about how scary these incidents can be– as well as from Brad Ziegler, who experienced a similar incident himself.

The good thing, of course, is that Happ is receiving outstanding medical care right now,  and that both McCarthy and Ziegler are both well and pitching again.

9:15 PM Update

Looking for a bit of levity in all this? Me either, but that doesn’t mean that people sending their best wishes to the obviously fake @JAHappster Twitter account. It’s the thought that counts and all that, eh?

9:40 PM Update

All quiet on this right now, FYI.

10:15 PM Update

Doesn’t seem like we’re going to hear anything before the game ends, just to let you know. But I have no idea.

11:20 PM Update

A couple items here, via the beat reporters who are down in Florida, still awaiting any kind of word on J.A. Happ’s status:

Gregor Chisholm tweets that Happ is undergoing tests– which I’d say seems good in that it means he’s not currently in surgery or anything, right?– while Barry Davis has spoken to Brett Lawrie who offers encouraging news, not only about Happ’s on-field state, but the blood seen on the field, the source of which was unknown at the time:

Davis notes, however, that “the players on the field didn’t see replay so only speculating where ball hit Happ. Replay shows it may have hit upper cheek.” Ugh.

11:30 PM Update

Shi Davidi gives what seems to be another positive update, via Jose Bautista– though one that has to be tempered with the knowledge of how Brandon McCarthy’s injuries progressed, I think, unfortunately (not to mention what Barry Davis noted in the above update):

Meanwhile, Scott MacArthur tells us that Happ is alert, and undergoing a CT scan and other tests. No word on the extent of the injuries as yet, though. Davidi adds that John Gibbons and the rest of the Jays are with us in waiting for the results of the tests.

“I just started praying,” R.A. Dickey tells John Lott of the immediate aftermath of the incident. “That’s all I knew to do.”

Midnight Update

OK, I think I’m going to shift into a less obsessive mode of monitoring this situation, as it seems that we’re into the post-game quote portion of the evening, and that it might be a little while before we hear anything definitive about what’s going on. I’ll update when word comes, assuming we hear anything tonight, but not so much regularly until then.

I’ll leave the last word, for now, to Joe Maddon:

Comments (67)

  1. This is so sad. My prayers are with him, hope the injury is not too serious.

  2. That sound… Ball on skull, so disturbing…

  3. So scary. Don’t really know what to say. Something about perspective. Sports don’t matter. I don’t know. Jeez. Be ok Happster.

  4. Seriously scary stuff. He’s in my thoughts for sure. I hope he has a quick recovery.

  5. Is there somewhere to see the replay? I feel bad for Happ, he worked so hard to get into the rotation. Dammit

    • It’s up at mlb.com

    • I have to say that waiting for the play to stop to assist Happ is completely ridiculous. That’s a flaw in the rules right there. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often, but still: drop everything and get somebody out there.

      • +1
        Ball off of the pitcher’s head, the play should be called once the runner reaches first whether safely or if an infielder makes the out off of the redirected ball. One base max for all base runners.

    • I checked it out, but I warn against viewing it since it is very bad; I don’t know where he was hit on the left side of his head, but he was bleeding profusely from his left ear.

    • I watched the replay and safe to say it’s the most emotional I’ve ever got watching baseball. Scary, scary, scary.

  6. Shi Davidi ‏@ShiDavidi 9m

    A good sign: J.A. Happ was conscious en route to hospital.

    • That’s promising indeed, but one can’t rule out anything when there is a brain injury as it may take some time before symptoms related to brain swelling can show up. Hope he is getting everything checked out in the best of care.

  7. I remember when I played ball and one of my team mates hit my coach while he was throwing batting practice. I was in the shortstop position, directly behind him. Our league used aluminium bats so the ball jumped off the bat a lot quicker, and because it was BP my coach wasn’t on the rubber, he was maybe 3-5 feet closer to home plate. I’ll honestly never forget that scream. Thankfully he was okay, I think it just hit him in the “right spot” to avoid serious injury. But it fucking shakes you to be so close when it happens, you realize how fast this game actually is.

    Thoughts and prayers to JA and his family. And I feel for Desmond Jennings as well, it really can’t be easy for him right now. I can’t wait to see JA back on the mound, whenever it happens.

  8. As soon as I saw it I thought “Epidural hematoma” The fact that he was conscious being taken off the field isn’t necessarily a good thing because most people who suffer from this will have a lucid interval. Prayers are with Happ.

  9. i hope hes alright, i’m sooo mad that the rays scored 3 runs because he got hurt as well

  10. The Rays players weren’t wrong for continuing to run the bases, but that doesn’t mean it was right.

    I know I would have stopped. And I’m fairly certain there is some vague rule in the book that let’s umpires do pretty much anything in their discretion.

    Not blaming anyone here, as who knows how we’d react, but it would have been nice to see the home plate umpire call out TIME and get Happ help as soon as possible. Let everyone have a base.

    Anyways, the important thing is: let’s hope it’s not as bad as it seemed.

  11. I wouldn’t make too much of bleeding. When you get hit in the head your scalp bleeds like stink. Much more likely source than out the ear, where bleeding is rarely brisk.

  12. what was the name of that boston red sox pitcher a few years ago that got hit in the head like this – what ever his name is, i’ll say whatever happened to him will be the outcome for ja happ.

  13. Hopefully Happ is able to recover quickly from this.

  14. Hopefully a speedy recovery for Happ.
    Not to sound like a dick, but who is next in line for the rotation?

  15. JA will be fine…he has a hard head.

    Hopefully the team can pull out a victory for him.

  16. I came in the room to see Happ laying on the ground, so I didn’t see the play but… I don’t care about the fucking rules, something like that happens you get your ass out there and help the man. Ball in play or not!

  17. You’d think they’d just pack up and go home after something like that happens.
    It must be hard to finish a game after witnessing someone take a line drive off the head, especially if you’re a pitcher.
    Also, I always wonder why the batter just kinda stands there after these accidents occur.
    I wouldn’t be able to help but runn up to the guy and say “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry….”

  18. Not one F-Word in the entire article. It’s a record for Stoeten

  19. While Happ probably doesn’t care at the moment. It’s pretty gutsy of the Jays to come back and tie the game for the guy.

  20. I know what prevented the trainer from entering the field, but… In that situation what really prevented him from running on the field right then?

  21. Thank you for the updates, please continue to monitor this and update for the fans. Much appreciated.

  22. The umpire needs to call the ball dead in this situation. I don’t care if they give a ground rule double or whatever…the key is clearing the paths and getting the trainers/medics out there as soon as possible.

    Baseball results are secondary if even significant.

    I’m not saying I fault anyone…the Rays didn’t do wrong by continuing to run…it’s a fluid situation that’s tough to get a handle on in the moment…but they really need to look into how to better react in these situations and getting the medics on the field as soon as is paramount.

    • Don’t really care about the Rays running, but it pissed me off to see the ump just fucking standing there. Even Yunel was motioning furiously trying to get his attention.

      • I confess I didn’t see what the umps were doing. I’ve also been avoiding seeing the replays…

        But yeah…they need to be calling a dead ball as soon as possible and getting help out there.

  23. Very sad to see what happened to Happ. It is a freak injury & could be the end of his career .

    Hopefully, he is not permanently injured, but it doesn’t look good.

    Thoughts & Prayer are with the Hapster & his family.

    2013 is turning out to be an injury filled season as well.

    Happ,Santos,Johnson, Reyes etc

  24. Hope Hap comes through alright.

  25. Wishing Happ a quick recovery!

  26. Prayers for Happ!!! Truly hoping he’s ok.

  27. Who’s getting the nod now for 5th starter?

  28. Thanks for the updates Stoeten.

    The 11:20 update is certainly sounding better than it could have been.

  29. Thanks for keeping us posted Stoets. Good to know it’s still just “tests” and he’s in good hands.

  30. Let’s hope for the best possible results and a speedy recovery. Best wishes J.A and Blue Jay family

  31. Hoping Happ gets better soon and his injury ends up not being severe. Never a fan of the “praying” nonsense but if it makes people feel better then w.e.

  32. This reminds me all to much of when I played little league and the pitcher I was catching for got beamed in the cheek by the biggest guy on the other team. He was knocked out before he hit the ground. Thankfully he was okay though, I hope the same for Happ as well. Scary scary scary stuff

  33. One of the links above took me to a video clip of Anthony Gose stealing home in a Bisons game. Outstanding stuff!

    Go watch it, and check out the coach in the background literally shaking his head in awe of what the fuck just happened.

    Straight steal, wasn’t even close. Un. Real. Speed.

  34. Most people/updates are talking about blood from around the ear, but when they took Happ out on the stretcher there was a large compress over his left eye. Does anyone know yet where he was actually hit? (I was watching the game and still can’t bring myself to watch the replay)

  35. They had bandages over his cheek and left eye. Dont see why they would do that if he got hit in the side of the head / ear region. I dont understand how he could have a gash behind his ear AND have been hit in the cheek region unless somehow he cut himself when he fell (which i guess he could have done if he brushed up agains mound dirt).

    I have a background in trauma surgery and can tell you most likely he has suffered an orbital and maxillary fracture based on mechanism of impact.

    they always ct the brain when there is orbital injury because of proximity and chance of concomitant injury.

    the first test they would run is a ct brain and ct maxillofacial.

    any acute bleeding in the brain (be it contusion, epidural or subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage) will be readily picked up on the ct.

    now its not the blood that is really the problem in and of itself, its the fact that the cranial vault is a closed space and blood oozing out of vessels or tissue increases your intracranial pressure…problem with that is your brain can herniate either side to side (subfalcine herniation) or superior to inferior (uncal, transtentorial).

    the CT scan will readily demonstrate evidence of this increased pressure and then if warranted, neurosurgeon would either have to drill some bur holes to allow pressure to escape, or even evacuate blood. They might also start steroids to decreased inflammation.

    Now I pray none of that is the case here and that this is more of an maxillary issue (bone below the eye). while still not great and still a career threatening injury if enough damage is done…its not life threatening.

    just think of the force of the impact on unprotected bone and flesh. we evolved in such a way that protects ourselves best from things in nature….not hard spheres hurling at us over 100 mph from a distance of under 60 feet.

    pitchers in the majors leagues are basically insane to perform this task without some extra protection.

    • Thanks Voice of Treason. The worrying thing for me is that I just Googled Happ and couldn’t find anything after the CT scan news. I hope he’s OK and I also hope his family’s OK. I thought there would have been some more news by this morning.

    • wow voice of treason now you got me really worried for him.

    • The team says he has a head contusion and a laceration to his left ear.

      The Jays say they expect he will be discharged later in the day after further testing.

      • Heard the same thing. No fracture, no major injury, no internal bleeding or anything. Just a gash on his head and ear.

        So… he’s good? Totally nuts.

        Have to assume he goes on at least the 15 day DL but this is amazing!

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