As the maple bat controversy rages on in Major League Baseball, Susan Rhodes can tell you from experience that she prefers the ash bats instead.
That’s because when a maple bat recently exploded during a game, pieces went flying into her face and shattered her jaw.
Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS has the painful story of Rhodes, who took in a ballgame at Dodger Stadium - only to have her evening end with a trip to the hospital.
Back on April 25, Susan was in the seats watching the Dodgers take on the Rockies. In the 7th inning, Todd Helton took a swing at Cory Wade’s pitch. The bat ripped apart on contact, with a huge chunk heading Rhodes’ way:
“All I remember is feeling this complete slam against my face and pain,” Rhodes says. “You know when you’re in such shock, you think, ‘What the hell happened?’ I figured I got hit by a ball. I was very conscious of one flying and thought we aren’t in a very safe area. I don’t know if I was looking at the ball. I can’t remember anything except for the smash and total memory loss.”
Dodgers officials summoned paramedics who took Rhodes to an on-site triage center. Once stabilized, she was offered a ride to a nearby emergency room. Instead, she sought care closer to home, where a CAT scan revealed two jaw fractures, one on the upper-left side, where the bat struck, and the other on the lower right, where the force reverberated.
Once the swelling subsided three days later, Rhodes underwent surgery in which doctors inserted four screws and a titanium plate on the right side.
That’s not the kind of souvenirs Susan was hoping to take home with her.
The dilemma with maple bats is their tendency to shatter & fly apart easily, while the traditional ash bat more often just cracks without the explosive aftermath.
Rhodes has hired an attorney and is considering lawsuits against the Dodgers and the bat manufacturer. However, her chances of winning are slim. That’s why most teams have signs & make announcements cautioning fans about balls & bats flying into the seating areas - so they’re not legally responsible when spectators get hit.
In the meantime, Susan has had to make agonizing adjustments to her lifestyle:
Rhodes subsists on liquid supplements Ensure and Boost and tries to come up with palatable concoctions in the blender. Migraines dig into her skull. Doctors can’t say for certain if she will recover fully.
“I had perfect teeth before,” Rhodes says. “They’ve shifted. My bite is off. The jaw on the left side has atrophied. I don’t have the same energy. I’ve got two kids, and I’m a single mother.
“It’s not easy. You just want to sleep. I don’t go out anymore. I’m exhausted.”
And she’s certain to be steering clear of Chavez Ravine:
“From now on,” she says, “I’m going to Lakers games.”
Good luck getting a ticket.