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The pitch struck umpire out

Danley got a warning from Martin. He still has headaches from the 96-mph fastball.

May 03, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Amid all the light and sound that is a major league baseball game, with thousands of fans buzzing behind him, Kerwin Danley distinctly heard two words.

"Look out!"

There was a fastball headed his way, toward his head, at 96 mph. In a split second, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin realized he could not catch the ball and hollered those two words to the umpire behind him: Look out!

"That was the last thing I remember," Danley said Friday. "I heard it plainly. The next thing I knew, I was out."

Danley was knocked down -- and briefly out -- when that fastball hit his jaw last Saturday at Dodger Stadium. The game was delayed for 18 minutes while the Dodgers' training staff treated Danley and an ambulance drove onto the field to rush him to a hospital.

After a precautionary CT scan, he was released within a few hours. He stayed at his mother's home in Culver City, then returned Wednesday to his home in Chandler, Ariz.

"I've still got some headaches," he told The Times, "and I'm a little disoriented. My body feels good. I just can't get rid of these headaches."

In the fourth inning of a game between the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, Martin flashed the sign for a curveball to Dodgers pitcher Brad Penny, but Penny had glanced away and missed the sign.

Penny threw a fastball. Martin, expecting a curve, could not react quickly enough in that split-second, except to yell back to Danley.

"I felt like somebody gave me a left hook," Danley said. "I could see it coming. I couldn't do anything about it."

Danley lost consciousness for a few moments, falling backward, a moment replayed all night long on sports shows across the country.

As a hush fell over the stadium and trainers rushed to his aid, Danley said he could hear Dodgers trainer Stan Conte asking him to open his eyes.

"I kind of remember, 'Where am I? Open my eyes? Why did he ask me that?' " Danley said.

The Dodgers players left the field and returned to the dugout, with the exceptions of Penny and Martin.

"I was just hoping that he was still breathing," Martin said after the game. "I told him 'I'm sorry' a couple of times, but I don't know if he heard me."

Said Danley: "I didn't hear him at all. But stuff like that happens all the time. Sometimes we dodge it. This was just one of those things.

"I don't blame him. I just happened to be in the way."

As Conte treated him, Danley tried to get up and get back to work. This time, Conte told him, he would tell the umpire what to do.

"Your main concern is to get back in the game," Danley said. "I didn't want to leave my partners out there without another umpire."

He never did get up, transported onto a stretcher and into the ambulance, with a small wave to the cheering crowd.

"The lady running the ambulance told me, 'Hold your arm out so they know you're OK,' " Danley said.

Danley, 46, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from Dorsey High and played alongside Tony Gwynn at San Diego State before starting his career as an umpire. He worked in the minor leagues from 1985 to 1997, then joined the major league staff in 1998.

He conveyed his appreciation to the Dodgers' training staff and his thanks for the "all the calls and well wishes." He said major league officials have told him to take all the time he needs to recover fully.

When the time comes, he said, he won't be shy about heading back behind home plate.

"This was just one of those freak things," he said. "I'm sure, the first time I get back there, I'll be worrying about getting hit again. Hopefully, I can get past that play and move on right away.

"I realize I'll get hit back there. I've been hit a bunch of times."

Nothing like this, he said. And, in reflection, he is thankful.

If everything had not happened so fast, he said, it could have been a lot worse. He could have been hit flush on the side of the head.

"I'm just happy I didn't have more time to think," Danley said. "I might have turned my head."

--

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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