This past Saturday, I was collecting some first-hand accounts on a few players at the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kansas. The NBC World Series brings in some of the top teams from various college summer leagues for a double elimination tournament. On Friday, I was up until 2 a.m. watching the final Friday game and then at the stadium for the 8 a.m. game.
During the day’s third game (Liberal Bee Jays vs San Diego Force), a play was just finishing, when I heard the sound that resonated throughout the stadium. The on-deck batter was taking a warm-up swing and hit the team’s bat boy in the head. While I didn’t see the actual contact the Bee Jays’ player made with their bat boy’s head, I saw the last few steps the boy made in his short life. He stumbled twice and then fell to the ground. Then chaos ensued for a few minutes. The player who just hit the boy was holding the lifeless body in his arms. The boy’s mother was screaming as she jumped on the field. The home plate umpire immediately began to administer first aid. During this whole time, I never saw the little guy move.
A paramedic who was outside the stadium helping a lady who had become dehydrated rushed in to help stabilize the boy. The mother took the distraught player for a short walk to help console him. Both were in tears. Another ambulance was called and the boy was placed on a stretcher and rushed off.
Eventually, the game restarted. The player was replaced in the lineup for obvious reasons. The Bee Jays went on to win the heavy-hearted game in 12 innings.
News on the boy trickled in. Kaiser Carlile was his name. He had been the team’s bat boy all summer. Players from his Jayhawk league opponents remember him from earlier in the summer. The only medical news was he was in critical condition and in ICU. My initial reaction after seeing his non-moving body was to expect the worst. I was elated to just know he was alive.
Then, I got gut punched Monday morning when I woke up to the news he had died. So many people are torn apart by this. His family. The team, especially the player who hit him. His friends. Baseball fans who watch the game. Everyone.
I never knew Kaiser personally, but this tragedy is really hitting home. My two kids have gone to several NBC tournament games this year and expressed interest in being a bat boy and girl. I know the tournament director and probably could have tried get my kids in a game. Now, I am not so sure and I am not sure why. I know that they probably a have higher chance dying while driving with me to and from the game than being involved in the game action.
I would like to offer my condolences to the family, team, and anyone else touched by this tragedy. Second, if people would like to help, a fundraiser has been set up to help defray the medical costs. Finally, everyone is going to have to cope with this incident in their own way. I am going to start by being at the game tonight when Bee Jays take the field to pay tribute to the little guy. I am not sure if I am going to keep it together. I don’t expect most people will and a few tears will be shed. The game will go on with a big-little piece missing.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.