What’s Going On: Not a typical night at the ballpark

When I first heard the screams, I thought it was just a bunch of people joking around and having a good time.

It was in between a couple of youth baseball games on a beautiful Thursday night. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and everyone was having fun on the last night of the summer season, at least until tragedy struck.

A young boy, about 8 or 9 years old, had been horsing around with his friends after their game, like energetic boys will do. Someone swung a bat and hit the boy flush in the head, sending all those around into a panic.

Nearby children and adults started screaming as the blood poured from the boy’s head, typical of any head wound. One parent rushed to the concession stand to get something to stop the bleeding. She’d return a few minutes later to get ice to try and stop the swelling, but there was none to be had.

In this communication age, several people had out cell phones calling 911.

“I know you have probably received a ton of calls,” one parent stated. “But we need an ambulance here quick.”

While it was only a few minutes, the time between when I heard that first scream and paramedics arriving on scene seemed forever. As the boy lay on the ground with a parent holding paper towels to the wound, several children who were nearby at the time of the accident were visibly upset.

One boy aimlessly wandered, openly sobbing for several minutes before someone who appeared to be his mother tried to call him down. Based on how noticeably upset he was, I couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t the one who swung the bat.

The scene was surreal. A small group of people were frantically trying to do something … anything … as fast as they could. A much larger group was doing nothing but watching. Life had seemingly stopped for a few seconds and become eerily quiet, except for the screaming and crying of a handful of kids either directly involved or close enough to have seen what happened.

Then there were the faces of those children. They were hauntingly familiar, similar to the dazed looks on children in photographs depicting a war zone in a residential area or a town where every home was flattened by a tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster.

When the paramedics arrived a new presence came with them: calmness. They performed their tasks quietly and professionally and with the efficiency and effectiveness that only comes with years of training and on-the-job experience with chaotic situations like this every single day.

It was equally impressive and amazing to watch how them at work and how they transformed panic into peace. And the best sight and sound of the entire scene was the little boy crying and writhing in pain, indicating he not only was conscious and moving, but communicative as well.

And then they were gone and life resumed.

The next game began and everyone tried their best out of self-preservation to forget about the little boy wheeled away on a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance.

But they would be reminded an hour or so later when the game ended and they walked past the blood-soaked grass where the boy had lain.

What started as a fun night at the ballpark ended very differently and for everyone there, left a memory sooner forgotten than remembered.

My heart goes out the family affected and prayers for the little boy.

——

Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at gorear@nujournal.com.

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