While most of us could only imagine the pain Giancarlo Stanton was going through after being hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday, St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny has a pretty good idea of what it was like.
Back in May of 1998, while batting in the 9th inning of a tied game for the Milwaukee Brewers, Matheny took a 90+mph fastball to the face—and didn’t go down.
“I’m making sure I’m staying in there on a ball that possibly started up that might break towards the plate–next thing you know, I was spitting out a lot of blood,” recalled Matheny of the play.
“Like a lot of other things, right when it happens you don’t have time to really acknowledge that it’s painful. That usually comes later. Just kind of startled me more than anything else. The part that got me, I was just dropping so much blood I didn’t want to necessarily pass out right on the field—I didn’t think that would look good.
Working behind the plate, Matheny had his fair share of collisions but the pitch to the face was an entirely different experience—much like being punched on the jaw.
“That’s exactly what it was—pretty good punch,” quipped Matheny. “It’s a whole different dynamic than getting smoked at the plate and your whole body just kind of like a punt returner.”
Like Stanton, Matheny did not require major surgery—but has had all of his teeth in that area either worked on or replaced. Besides healing physically, a question that remains unanswered for Stanton is how he will react to stepping back in against live pitching.
“I was fortunate—I didn’t have a whole lot of time to dwell on it,” said Matheny of his own circumstance. “The next night we played and I was able to get in and just jump in and swing. I think that was probably one of the healthiest things that could happen for me.”
The amount of support I have received from you guys has been tremendous & Heartfelt. I'm much better today & deeply appreciate your prayers!
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) September 12, 2014
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports