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Historical Perspective

On 27 June 2001, Brendan Grant was playing summer baseball for the Belmont Senior Babe Ruth Baseball Team on the Belmont High School Varsity Field, in Belmont Massachusetts. While attempting to catch a routine fly ball from his position as left fielder, Brendan collided with the center fielder, and sustained fatal injuries from the resulting collision.

In the sport of baseball, this event appears to be a relatively rare occurrence. Research into the archives of baseball on this matter is on-going. At the time this webpage was last updated, information has been located on a spectrum of individuals who appear to have died as a direct result of an accident while preparing or participating in a game of organized baseball.  Most of the accidents have been the result of being hit by the baseball, and only a handful appear to have resulted from a collision between players. 

The information tabulated below includes only individuals who were participating in the preparation or playing of a baseball game in an organized league, and who died as a direct result of the accident. This includes anyone actively involved on the field of play such as players, umpires, bat boys, etc, and does not include non-participants such as spectators, groundskeepers, etc. Furthermore, this only includes accidental deaths during a game or pre-game, and does not include acts of intentional violence (e.g., fights, riots, murders, suicides, etc). Individuals are not included who were injured and returned to play baseball, or who returned to normal life in some capacity, but subsequently died of complications due to an earlier injury.  The scoping of the details is a key part of this discussion, since a review of individuals who have perished at the ballpark is amazingly diverse, and aside from direct events related to the play of baseball include everything from riots, gunfights, suicides,electrocutions, snake bites to plane crashes.

This information has been compiled primarily through multiple sources: including the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), The Deadball Era, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, "Bury My Heart at Cooperstown" by Frank Russo and Gene Racz (Triumph Books, 2006), and "Death at the Ballpark" by Robert M. Gorman and David Weeks (McFarland & Company Publishers, 2009).  These sources indicate the hudreds of events that have resulted in fatal injuries at or near ballparks, many of which do not match our scoping criterial used in this discussion  In the meantime, the details of these particular events are still being researched.  If you have information that could assist, please send it to us at the email identified through the "Foundation Information" section (under "contact us") of this website.

The following table summarizes selected accidental baseball player fatalities invovling players on the field, and that occurred as a direct reult of the play of the sport.  This listing does not claim to be all-inclusive, and the above references should be consulted for more information..

SELECTED SUMMARY OF ACCIDENTAL BASEBALL PLAYER FATALITIES
THis Table Last Updated 29 July 2013

     Year Name Age Team League Description
1 1861 James Creighton, Jr. 21            Ruptured bladder caused by swinging at a pitch, died 18 Oct 1861
2 1877 John Quigley   Poughkeepsie   Died several weeks after a collision during a pop bunt play with Wappinger Falls Dan Brouthers
3 1883 William Collins   Grand Rapids (MI)   Died one day after being struck in neck by ball while catching, and not wearing chest protector
4 1884 John McDonough   Mt. Clemens Fort Wayne, NWL Died six weeks after being hit in chest by foul tip while catching
5 1885 Louis Henke   Atlanta Crackers Southern Association Internal bleeding from a ruptured liver after collision with Lefty Marr of Nashville
6 1887 William H. Grainey   Brockton (MA)   As an umpire, died same day after being hit by a pitch
7 1887 Michael Murphy   Rochester (NY)   Struck in juggler vein by pitch
8 1887 Jack Golden   Cedar Glade (AR)   Complications from a beaning
9 1906 Thomas F. Burke   Lynn (MA) New England League Fractured skull when beaned by Fall River pitcher Joe Yeager
10 1906 Herbert Whitley   Burlington Pathfinders Iowa State League Fractured skull when beaned by Waterloo pitcher Fred Evans
11 1907 Edward Bowe 14 Troy (NY)   Hit by pitched ball
12 1907 William Steth 20     Hit on head by pitch
13 1907 William Heibel 17 Waverly (OH)   Hit by a bat that slipped out of the batter's hands
14 1907 Clifford Clore 8 Ludlow (KY)   Hit in the temple by bat swung by 10 year old brother
15 1907 Dan McKean   Franklin Athletics   Struck in mouth by ball during game in Morristown, NJ on August 17
16 1907 Fred Stephenson 21 Ellendale   Heart attack after extra base hit
17 1909 Charles Pinkney 22 Dayton (OH) Central League Fractured skull when beaned by pitcher Casey Hagerman of Grand Rapids on 24 September 1909
18 1909 James Phelps   Ralleyville Nine Monroe, LA Died following day after being bit by water snake while chasing long fly ball on July 24
19 1910 Philip Forney     Western Association As an umpire, hit over the left eye (died of paralysis)
20 1911 Ed Cermak 29   Cotton States League As an umpire, hit in the throat by a baseball
21 1914 Gardner Lowe     Minor League Infection complications from being hit the previous summer by a pitched baseball
22 1916 John Dodge 27     Hit by a pitched ball while playing in the Minor leagues, died 19 June 1916
23 1920 Ray Chapman 29 Cleveland American League Hit in the head by a pitch from Yankees pitcher Carl Mays, died 17 Aug 1920
24 1920 Carl Jager   Plainwell (MI)   As an amateur player, hit in the head by a pitch, died same day as Ray Chapman (17 Aug 1920)
25 1923 Jim Scoggins 32     Brain injury after being hit in the head by a baseball
26 1936 George Tkach   Superior Northern League Hit by a pitch
27 1938 Linus (Skeeter) Ebnet 23 Winnipeg Northern League Injuries from a beaning
28 1938 Charles Ray Tumelty 25   Minor League Died from injuries after collision at home plate
29 1947 James (Stormy) Davis 20 Ballinger Longhorne League Injuries from a beaning (hemorrhage) on 3 July 1947. Died 7 days later
30 1951 Richard J. Conway 19 Twin Falls Pioneer Club Struck over the heart by a thrown ball during pre-game practice
31 1951 Ottis Johnson 24 Dothan Alabama-Florida Injuries from a skull fracture after being beaned by Headland pitcher Jack Clifton
32 1951 Andy Strong 23 Crowley Evangeline League Struck by a bolt of lightning during a game at Alexandria, La
33 1964 Gerald Highfill 13 Wenatchee Northern League As a batboy, hit by a line drive in pre-game practice
34 1974 Alfredo Francisco Edmead 18 Salem (NC) Carolina League Injuries from a collision with a teammate
35 2001 Brendan Peter Anthony Grant 18 Belmont (MA) Middlesex Division Babe Ruth League In a Senior Babe Ruth game, fatally injured in outfield collision with teammate
36 2003 Brandon Patch 18 Helena, Montana Class AA Legion Injury to the head after being hit by pitch while pitching.  See www.forever11.com
37 2007 Mike Coolbaugh 35 Tulsa Drillers Texas League Hemorrhage from being hit in neck by line drive foul ball while coaching first base
38 2010 Andrew Cohn 15 Jacksonville (FL) St Mary's Riverdogs Fatally injured in a collision at first base with a base runner
39 2010 Thomas Adams 16 Patterson (NJ) Jersey Braves Winter League Fatally injured after being hit in chest by ball.