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MLB's Worst Hit-by-Pitch Moments Ever

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

MLB's Worst Hit-by-Pitch Moments Ever

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    Chin music is a part of the game of baseball. It is meant to brush back a batter or send a message to the opposing team. However, it can also be one of the scariest moments in baseball.

    Sometimes a pitch will get in a little too close and hit a batter in the face or on the helmet. This has led to a number of frightening occasions during which players have suffered some serious injuries.

    As helmets have gotten better and more sophisticated over the years, they have protected some players from more serious injury when they catch a fastball that ran up a little bit too much.

    Here are some of the worst hit-by-pitch moments in Major League Baseball history...

Ray Chapman

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    The beaning of Ray Chapman was one of the most tragic moments in baseball history, as he passed away after he was hit in the head by a fastball.

    Chapman stepped to the plate against Carl Mays of the New York Yankees on August 16, 1920 and was unable to locate the submarine pitch. Since he never saw it coming, Chapman did not move out of the way and the pitch hit him squarely on the head (h/t Tom Withers of USA Today).

Adam Greenberg

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    Adam Greenberg earned a call-up to the Chicago Cubs in July of 2005. His first appearance came on July 7 as a pinch-hitter.

    Greenberg stepped up to the plate against Florida Marlins pitcher Valerio de los Santos. The first pitch Santos threw was a fastball, and it ended up hitting Greenberg in the helmet. He was visibly dazed and ended up suffering a concussion as a result.

    After the incident, Greenberg had issues with vertigo that prevented him from playing well (h/t Bob Holtzman of ESPN). However, Greenberg still dreams of making it back to the major leagues (h/t Jonathan Eig of Chicago Magazine).

    Greenberg will get his next chance to play against major leaguers when he plays as a member of the Israeli team in the World Baseball Classic (h/t Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago).

Mike Piazza

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    The rivalry between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees was always intense, but things got a bit more feisty during the 2000 season.

    Mike Piazza was batting against Roger Clemens at Yankee Stadium when he was hit in the head by a fastball. Piazza immediately went down and suffered a concussion that caused him to miss the All-Star Game that season (h/t Sports Illustrated).

    Tensions would get even higher in the postseason when the two teams faced off in the World Series. After Piazza broke his bat while facing Clemens, the Yankees pitcher picked up the bat shard and threw it toward Piazza.

Dickie Thon

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    Dickie Thon was starting to turn into a very solid player of the Houston Astros by the 1984 season. He was coming off a 20-home run year, was an outstanding defender and had the potential to be a future Hall of Famer, according to San Diego Padres manager Dick Williams (h/t Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated).

    Just five games into the 1984 season, Thon was hit in the face by a Mike Torrez fastball. As a result of this, Thon broke his orbital bone and was partially blinded (h/t Ron Fimrite of Sports Illustrated). While Thon did return to the majors the following season, he was never the same player.

Tony Conigliaro

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    Tony Conigliaro broke into the major leagues at age 19 and was immediately a star for the Boston Red Sox. In 111 games, Conigliaro hit 24 home runs. His performance got better and better over the next two years.

    Conigliaro had an outstanding first half of the year in 1967 and was selected to represent the American League in the All-Star Game. In a game against the California Angels that season, Conigliaro was hit in the face by a pitch from Jack Hamilton.

    The pitch caused him to fracture his cheekbone and caused major damage to his left eye (h/t Tony Conigliaro and Jack Zanger of Sports Illustrated). Conigliaro missed the rest of the season and sat out all of the 1968 season.

    When Conigliaro returned to the majors, he had put together two outstanding years. However, Conigliaro's vision got worse, and by age 26, he was was struggling. Conigliaro was eventually forced to retire because of his injury.

Gary Roenicke

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    The Baltimore Orioles organization was certainly excited about Gary Roenicke because of the numbers that he put up for them in 1979. He looked like he was going to be a fixture in their lineup.

    During that season, however, Roenicke was hit in the face by a pitch and required 25 stitches (h/t Mike Klingaman of The Baltimore Sun). As a result of the incident, Roenicke returned about a week later wearing part of a football facemask that had been attached to his helmet, taken from the Baltimore Colts (h/t Mike Klingaman of The Baltimore Sun).

Mike Jorgensen

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    Mike Jorgensen was a part-time player throughout his career, but he is remembered because he suffered one of the worst injuries of any player who has ever been hit by a beanball.

    In 1979, Jorgensen, then a member of the Texas Rangers, came to the plate against Andy Hassler of the Boston Red Sox and was hit square in the face by a pitch.

    Jorgensen reported having headaches for days, and he eventually went to the hospital. While there, Jorgensen suffered a seizure that almost killed him (h/t New Jersey Sports Heroes).

Mickey Cochrane

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    Being hit by a pitch is obviously dangerous and has ended the career of more than one player. Mickey Cochrane was forced to retire after he was hit in the head by a pitch.

    The future Hall of Famer was knocked unconscious for 10 days after he was hit by a pitch from New York Yankees pitcher Irving Hadley on May 25, 1937 (h/t Lauren Rosenfeld of Penn State University). Cochrane also suffered a broken skull as a result of being hit by the pitch, ending his career in the majors.

Kirby Puckett

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    Kirby Puckett was an absolute superstar for the Minnesota Twins and helped lead them to two World Series titles while he was on their roster. Puckett was also an All-Star for 10 consecutive seasons.

    Unfortunately, Puckett's career was cut short in 1995 while he was still producing at a high level. A Dennis Martinez fastball hit Puckett in the face, broke his jaw and caused vision problems that made him cut his career short (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).

Lou Boudreau

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    Lou Boudreau is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his career ended much earlier than it should have. He retired at the age of 35 in 1954.

    On August 5, 1951, Virgil Trucks hit Boudreau with a pitch. He did not appear in a game for over a month after this. While Boudreau played for a few more seasons, he struggled and never got consistent playing time.

Pete Reiser

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    Pete Reiser went all out on every play, and this style of play led the three-time All-Star to have a number of injuries and a short career. One of Reiser's worst injuries was actually caused by Ike Pearson of the Philadelphia Phillies.

    After being hit by a pitch from Pearson, Reiser went to the hospital and had to fight for his life (h/t Sidney Jacobson). When Reiser returned, he was able to put up good numbers, but his career would not last too long because he struggled to stay on the field.

Sammy Sosa

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    Power hitters are certainly used to seeing pitches that are up and in if they have embarrassed a pitcher in the past. Sammy Sosa saw a number of high fastballs during his career.

    On two occasions Sosa took hard fastballs to the head. A 2003 pitch by Salomon Torres cracked Sosa's helmet (h/t Alan Robinson of Associated Press via Cincinnati Enquirer). Sosa was also once hit by a pitch so hard that it knocked his helmet directly off of his head.

Edgar Gonzalez

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    It took Edgar Gonzalez until the age of 30 to reach the major leagues. He put up some solid numbers during his rookie season, but Gonzalez struggled during his sophomore campaign. He is likely most well-known for being the brother of Adrian Gonzalez.

    During a game against the Colorado Rockies on July 18, 2009, Gonzalez was drilled with a Jason Hammel fastball. He was on the ground for a few minutes after being hit and was eventually taken to a hospital to be evaluated (h/t Sandy Burgin of MLB.com).

Rickie Weeks

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    Laying down a bunt is not as easy as it looks. It could also become fairly dangerous if the pitcher on the mound is a little bit wild.

    Rickie Weeks found this out firsthand in 2009. As he went to lay down a bunt, Weeks caught an Edinson Volquez fastball square in the face. He was lying on the ground for a few minutes, but Weeks was able to get up and walk off the injury.

David Wright

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    David Wright has been the face of the New York Mets for a number of years. In 2009 he had a scary moment where his face was almost hurt.

    While facing Matt Cain at Citi Field, Wright took a fastball to the helmet. He was lying on the ground and was clearly dazed once he stood up. Wright left the stadium in an ambulance and was diagnosed with a concussion (h/t Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).

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