WASHINGTON — Ever wonder what it would feel like to take a Bryce Harper foul ball to the face?
Of course you haven’t. Why would anyone want to imagine such a thing?
That’s certainly not what Steve Davis, Vice President of Programming for CBS Radio in Washington, D.C., was thinking on his way to the park to see his beloved Nationals take on the Mets earlier this month.
The score was 6-1 by the fourth inning. Mat Latos had homered two innings earlier, becoming the first Nats pitcher to do so all season. And Jayson Werth was standing on first with one out as Harper addressed the plate.
The fourth pitch of the at-bat came in from Mets reliever Gabriel Ynoa — an 84-MPH slider — and Harper popped it out of play behind the visiting dugout. It appeared to be heading for Section 114, right where Davis was sitting in Row T, Seat 4.
In fact, it was, and Davis knew it, so he reached up with both hands, channeling his own playing days as a high school outfielder, and prepared to make the routine catch. Only, just as the ball was about to hit his hands, an opportunistic Mets fan nearby reached in trying to seize the souvenir ball, altering its path.
Instead, it clipped Davis’ hand and shot directly into his right eye, leaving him a bloody mess. Had he not been wearing glasses that day, he could have been in for some real trouble.
That Mets fan recovered the souvenir after all. As Davis recalled, “He picked the ball up and said, ‘Here, dude.'”
As blood leaked down his face, an usher came by to check on his well-being. Davis told the man he thought he would be fine, but the usher insisted on calling over a medic.
Moments later, the medic arrived to deliver the obvious diagnosis: “You’re gonna have a black eye.”
The next morning, Davis arrived at his office sporting a colorful purplish-green ring around his right eye. He was chipper, but still troubled by what could have been.
“I had it cold,” he said of the ball. “No doubt. No glove, I still had it.”
Davis, with the help of a few well-placed connections, was able to get Harper to sign the ball.
“Nice eye,” it reads below his signature.