On August 8th, 2007, James Falzon was at Shea Stadium sitting in the second row along the third-base line with his dad, 11-year-old son, and 9-year-old nephew. They were there to watch the Mets battle the Atlanta Braves, and the home team was trailing in the bottom of the 7th inning when Mets second baseman Luis Castillo hit a fly ball. "I said to my dad, 'This is going to tie the game!'", Falzon told the Daily News at the time. "Then bam! I got hit with the bat."
Castillo's bat, which was made out of maple, exploded when he hit the ball. In an interview with the Post, Falzon explained, "I was watching the ball, and [the shards] hit me in the face. It knocked me off my chair." That's what you get for keeping your eye on the ball! The injuries left Falzon with massive bleeding, a broken nose and eye socket, and permanent metal plates and pins. "It broke my whole face," he said. But the Mets went on to win 4-3, so there's that to be grateful for.
More ballplayers have been using maple bats since Barry Bonds relied on them to hit a record-breaking 73 homeruns during the 2001 season. Falzon's lawsuit, filed on Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court, argues that maple bats put people at risk because they shatter more easily than ash bats, which "typically crack while maple bats have a tendency to break apart or explode." In 2008, Major League Baseball concluded that maple bats are three times as likely to explode as traditional ash bats, and has since set new production standards for maple bats.
Falzon is suing the Mets, Castillo, Major League Baseball, the maker of the bat, and ex-Met catcher Ramon Castro, who had lent his teammate the fateful bat. He's seeking unspecified money damages for his physical injuries, plus cash for the trauma endured by his son when he saw his dad's face smashed in.