This is terrifying — but SO good on the dad for doing what he did!
Shaun Cunningham was at a spring training baseball game in Bradenton, Florida on Monday with his eight-year-old son, Landon.
They were there to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves get ready for the MLB season in a few weeks — but they got a whole lot more!
Sitting down the first base line, Cunningham was watching as Landon snapped a picture on his phone to send to his grandmother — that’s what kids do, after all — when Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz was fooled on a swing at the plate.
Unfortunately, the bat slipped from Ortiz’s hands and came flying right for the child!
Reacting quickly, Cunningham stuck his hand out to deflect the flying lumber, saving his son’s face with INCHES to spare and inadvertently being the subject of a truly incredible set of pictures (above)!!!
The dad was pretty mellow about the experience, telling reporters:
“I was just protecting my son. There wasn’t a lot of time to think about it. I just reacted. But we’re both fine. I’m a little bruised, but I’ll survive. I’ve been through worse.”
The firefighter’s wife Ashley feels differently:
“Thank God he has those reflexes. That bat was flying dead-center toward Landon’s head. It was a pretty memorable birthday for Landon. Dad’s really a hero in his eyes.”
Ortiz, who witnessed the entire thing and felt powerless to stop — even guilty for accidentally losing the bat — had to continue batting, not knowing what happened to the child.
The Pirates outfielder struck out on the next pitch, but understandably, his mind was elsewhere:
“I didn’t know what happened ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ if it (hurt) the boy or anything. I went home and my wife said to me, ├óΓé¼╦£You almost killed that kid!’ I saw the picture. It was crazy. That guy took a shot for the kid. He protected that kid.”
While the big leaguers are still getting up to speed in their training for the season, it seems like one dad is already in midseason form with his fatherly duties.
Nice going, Shaun Cunningham!!
[Image via Christoper Horner/Tribune-Review.]