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MLB umpire Ed Hickox gets a $775K jury award as a result of a foul ball injury

Mar 15, 2011, 9:11 AM EDT

Texas Rangers v Milwaukee Brewers

In 2005, umpire Ed Hickox was hit by a foul ball behind home plate. It knocked his mask off as it hit him in the jaw and caused broken bones and a concussion. Hickox sued Wilson, the mask’s manufacturer.  Yesterday a jury returned a verdict in his favor to the tune of $775,000.

The key thing in Hickox’s favor, according to his lawyer, was that Wilson didn’t do any testing of the mask before distributing them — for free — to umpires.  Rather, they depended on those umpires using the masks as defacto field tests.  Hickox’s lawyer uses the phrase “human guinea pigs,” which I’m guessing was the theme of his case at trial too. Always gotta have a theme.

I’ve been thinking about injurious foul balls Since Luis Salazar got hit in the head last week.  Yesterday I spoke with someone who works in the game who is convinced that it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed by one. Probably a fan.  That’s another topic from this Hickox business of course — and I’ll be writing more about it soon — but all of this news combined with a week of walking on baseball fields close players as they hit and throw makes one realize that it’s damn dangerous down on that field.  We don’t think about this very often as we see little white balls fly around on TV as though they are weightless, but a baseball can do a lot of damage.

Gives you a new appreciation for the batters who stand in there, the pitchers who stand in the direct line of fire — often unable by virtue of their follow through to defend themselves — and the catchers and umps who are nicked, banged, and battered multiple times a game.

  1. BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I think there was a guy in the 1920s that was killed when he was beaned. And I remember Steve Yeager almost dying when he took a foul tip to his throat (hence the reason catchers have that protective guard hanging down from their chin).
    In this case, why in the heck would Wilson let this go to court? Why not settle for medical bills, lost time and then throw in a little cash on top? They’d probably have gotten out for less than half of what they ended up paying.

    • randomdigits - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:43 AM

      Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays.

      • missthemexpos - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        A seagull was killed by a pitch thrown by Randy Johnson.

      • BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        I remember the seagull that Big Unit hit. The thing basically exploded.
        I think Dave Winfield got into hot water for beaning and killing a seagull in pregame warmups one time in Toronto.

      • cur68 - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        T’was a pigeon the big unit clobbered, wunnit? And Winfield hit a seagull, I believe. Either way, I see it as pest control.

      • Utley's Hair - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        Pigeons…seagulls…rats with wings…

      • cur68 - Mar 15, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        Winfeilds…Units…big guys with balls…

    • heynerdlinger - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      It take two to tango. Wilson can’t settle if Hickox doesn’t agree to the terms.

      A better question you might ask is why Hickox would take less than half of what he got in order to avoid a trial?

      • BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:01 AM

        How would he know going into the trial what he’d end up getting if he won? And would he risk getting nothing if he lost?

      • heynerdlinger - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:45 AM

        You’re arguing against your own logic here. Hickox and Wilson can’t both simultaneously have had a weak enough case that they felt pressured to settle.

        Hickox obviously thought he had a strong case, and Wilson obviously felt they would rather take their chances with a jury than pay what Hickox was asking for.

        What the article doesn’t state is how much Hickox was asking for in the suit, and whether he ended up getting less than he was holding out for from Wilson.

      • BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        That’s true. The $775,000 could have been what Hickox was asking for.
        My line of thinking is, if I had a choice between say, $400,000 guaranteed or a 50/50 chance between $775,000 or $0, the heck with the trial, I’m taking the $400,000 and running.

    • Roger Moore - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      The player you’re thinking of was Ray Chapman, shortstop for the Indians, who was beaned by Carl Mays during the 1920 stretch run. There have been plenty of other players, notably Mickey Cochrane and Tony Conigliaro, who were severely injured and were never the same after being beaned.

    • hep3 - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Actually, Yeager was in the on deck circle in San Diego when he took a broken bat to the neck. It is just a coinky dink that it was the Dodgers, Al Campanis, that came up with the hanging chad for catchers.

  2. Detroit Michael - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    You mean someone killed other than Mike Coolbaugh?

  3. sportsdrenched - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    I don’t need to be near MLBer’s. My six year old daughter almost dotted me in the temple last night.

    As to the original story…Hows that free PR working out for Wilson now?

  4. kirkmack - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    And what about Coolbaugh, the coach in AAA a few years ago?

  5. Windu - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Yeah Mike Coolbaugh is the reason for the helmets for the coaches, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a similar reaction by MLB to this situation.

    • Utley's Hair - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      The fact that he was hit in the neck, and yet coaches are required to wear helmets has fascinated me ever since that happened. I understand that the chance of being beaned in the head is probably more likely than being beaned in the neck, but I just thought it was somewhat odd.

      • BC - Mar 15, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        Really? I thought Coolbaugh took one in the head. Hmm. Learn something new every day. Sounds like the Yeager thing all over, but unfortunately he wasn’t as lucky. Tragic.

  6. win1win2 - Jun 19, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    I Think that hit to the jaw messed up his eyesight. Ed cannot call a strike if it was a beachball and home plate was 10ft wide. RETIRE -ED!!!! RETIRE ALREADY!!! or go back to umpire school

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