ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, a long-time Rays season ticket holder, gets struck by line drive
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, a Sarasota resident and long-time Rays season ticket holder, suffered a scare when he was struck in the stomach area by a line drive foul ball on the first pitch of the game Thursday. Vitale, whose seat was in the second row, just to the right of the visitor's dugout on the third base line, said he was okay, just bruised.
“It was scary – it was a bullet,” Vitale said. “I’ve been here for 11 years, never had a line drive come to me. Maybe a popup. I don’t know how that happened.”
Vitale said he was hosting a couple who had donated money through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program to attend a game with him; he let them sit in the front row, and was talking to them when the ball was hit by Jays left-handed hitting Fred Lewis.
“ESPN called me, Rece Davis, the host of Baseball Tonight called me up, ‘You okay?’ We were just watching. We’re going to have you on tonight.”
Vitale didn’t leave empty-handed, as he said Jays manager Cito Gaston sent him over a signed ball. So did the Rays, one with autographs from including manager Joe Maddon and special assistant Rocco Baldelli, and it included a message:
“Dick, Keep your eyes on the field. Ha. You’re always our favorite. All the best.”