Giving Baseball Space to Breathe

The human orbital bone is shaped like a pear and contains about half the juice. Your optic nerve lives at the small end and throws images to your retina in the back, which relays what you’re looking at to your brain. It’s the window through which baseball reaches us; in the blink of an eye, we go from seeing to reacting.

All eyes were on the Red Sox and Tigers at Fenway Park on August 17, 1967. During batting practice, Detroit’s Dick McAuliffe sent a line drive into the stands toward nine-year-old Mike Hughes, who threw his hands up to catch it just a hair too late.

“Right between my hands,” Hughes tells me. “I was in the hospital for five days with an orbital fracture and all that stuff.”

It would be a blood-splattered weekend for the sport in Boston. The next day at Fenway Park, Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro was hit by a pitch in about the same place as Hughes. It dislocated his jaw, fractured his cheekbone, and permanently damaged his left retina. He was carried off the field on a stretcher.

A year and a half after his injury, Conigliaro was back in the majors, hitting 20 home runs. The next year, he would hit a career high 36. Today, MLB’s Comeback…

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