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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Barry Bonds to Blame for Fan's Smashed Face in New York, Lawsuit Argues

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 2:15 PM

click to enlarge Barry Bonds is blamed for inspiring a trend that led to a fan's face being smashed in New York
  • Barry Bonds is blamed for inspiring a trend that led to a fan's face being smashed in New York
Just when you thought alleged perjurer Barry "Better Living Through Chemistry" Bonds couldn't be vilified any more, a lawsuit claims he's responsible for a trend that led to a man having his throat slashed and face crushed in Queens -- on a day when Bonds happened to be 3,000 miles away, playing in AT&T Park

A lawsuit has been filed by erstwhile New York Mets fan James G. Falzon against the Mets, Major League Baseball, and Mets players Luis Castillo and Ramon Castro (now with the Chicago White Sox). It fingers Bonds for popularizing maple wood bats of the sort that shattered and smashed Falzon's face as he sat in Shea Stadium on Aug. 8, 2007. Interestingly, Castillo swung the bat, which was owned by Castro -- hence both men are named as defendants. Also, Falzon lists 20 separate injuries from the incident; this requires an entire paragraph.

Bonds is mentioned right at suit's top of the first inning, so to speak: "Traditionally, Major League Baseball players used bats made of ash. However, in 2001, Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds used bats made of maple. That year Bonds hit 73 home runs" ... "Following Bonds' record breaking 73 home run season, the use of maple bats began a steady rise among Major League Baseball players."

James G. Falzon claimed more than 20 separate injuries after being hit in the face with a shattered bat at a Mets game
  • James G. Falzon claimed more than 20 separate injuries after being hit in the face with a shattered bat at a Mets game
You'd have to be eagerly awaiting O.J. Simpson's corralling of "the real killers" to think it was the bats that led to Barry Bonds swatting 24 more homers than he'd ever hit before and bulking up to Incredible Hulk proportions. But baseball players are a competitive and not altogether rational lot. And maple bats did become more popular. One problem with that: Maple bats don't just break. They burst.

click to enlarge luis_castillo.jpg
The suit quotes research undertaken by James Sherwood of the Baseball Research Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (yes, such a place exists). That 2005 study found that, statistically, there's no basis to claim you'll hit a ball harder or farther with a maple bat. But Sherwood did find that maple bats are three times likelier than ash to fragment into more than two pieces and four times more likely to break due to poor "slope of grain." In 2007, notes the suit, MLB required all its suppliers of maple bats to augment their liability insurance from $1 million to $10 million.

Falzon's suit claims "the defendant Mets and defendants Castillo and Castro are are jointly and severally liable for all of plaintiff's damages ... by reason of the fact defendant Mets are vicariously liable for negligent acts and omissions of defendants' employees, servants, agents, and/or subcontractors by the doctrine of respondeat superior..."

Throughout 20 pages of legal text about as monotonous as the Mets' 2010 season, Falzon's attorney takes longer than former Met Rickey Henderson in the batter's box to claim the following: The league, the Mets, Castillo, and Castro are all on the hook because they knew about the dangers posed by exploding maple bats and did nothing to protect James G. Falzon sitting in Shea Stadium field box 28 A.

click to enlarge ramon_castro.jpg
Also, Falzon is claiming his "infant" son, Robert J. Falzon, suffered "shock, fright, mental suffering, and emotional distress" from witnessing his dad taking a bat to the head.

The family claims it has been damaged "in a sum exceeding the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts." In other words -- it'll take more than a renewed offer of box seats to settle this one.

H/T   |   Courthouse News

Coda: An eagle-eyed reader points out something we wish we'd noticed earlier -- the Mets are described in this suit as the "New York Metroploitan Baseball Club, Inc." Ouch. It doesn't hurt as much as what the plaintiff went through, but that's a painful typo.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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