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How Baseball Escaped Its Violent Past

by Peter Morris

Don’t Kill the Umpire


ITEM: On May 25, 2011, star San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey suffered a broken leg after a gruesome home-plate collision with baserunner Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins. Some observers accused Cousins of dirty play for electing to run headlong into Posey when the catcher was not entirely blocking the plate; others maintained that the play was just good, hard baseball.

ITEM: On Opening Day, March 31, San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow, a forty-two-year-old paramedic, was attacked by two assailants in the parking lot after a game at Dodger Stadium. He was left comatose.

ITEM: On August 5 Colorado pitcher Juan Nicasio was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Washington shortstop Ian Desmond. Nicasio suffered a broken neck as a result of his fall.

ITEM: On July 7 Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a ball into the stands. Rangers fan Shannon Stone, a thirty-nine-year-old firefighter who was attending the game with his young son, reached over the railing in an attempt to catch the ball and plunged twenty feet to his death.

ITEM: On November 9 Washington catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped at gunpoint in his native Venezuela. Two days later, police rescued Ramos unharmed and apprehended eight suspects. The kidnapping nonetheless sparked concern about the many professional players who play winter ball in Venezuela.

These five incidents were quite different in nature, but each made unpleasant headlines that rocked the baseball world in 2011. Each event also spurred a concerned discussion about what, if anything, could be done to keep violence out of the national pastime.

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