Every time an outfielder tracks a ball to the outfield wall, there’s a small but not insignificant chance of something violent happening. Perhaps not quite on the scale of the outfielder in the baseball blooper reel from The Naked Gun, but danger is inherent anytime someone sprints toward a wall, especially if they can’t look at the wall because they’re tracking a flying object. Sometimes there’s a sweet catch; sometimes there’s a gnarly impact; sometimes there’s both.
Tuesday night Astros outfielder George Springer suffered dearly for making a very sweet catch at the wall. He tracked a ripped drive off the bat of Ryan Braun to the warning track in center; along the route, Springer took a couple quick glances to orient himself, but seemed ultimately to misjudge his proximity to the wall. The catch was lovely and clutch, but Springer appeared to expect a midair collision—when he landed a couple feet shy of the wall, his momentum and center of gravity sent him toppling backward, and he wound up banging his head, hard, off the bottom of the wall. Yes, it’s padded, but not so much that smashing your occipital lobe off of it would be a good idea, or fun:
Springer was down on the track for several minutes, and though he was able to get to his feet, the decision was made to pull him from the game, and he was carted off the field before play resumed. This is at least the second time in his career that Springer has suffered some sort of head injury from crashing into an outfield wall—in 2015, Springer was put on the disabled list with a concussion following a brutal collision on a catch in right field against the Rangers. Be careful out there!