It’s not uncommon to hear of serious injuries in football — whether the players are in a pee wee league or the NFL — as a result of a blow to the head.
Less common, however, are critical injuries in baseball. Even more infrequent are deaths. Which is why the news of a 13-year-old Little Leaguer who died in a game this week is even more shocking.
Hayden Walton was struck in the chest by a pitch on Wednesday morning in the middle of a game in Winslow, Ariz., and was pronounced dead a short time later.
The pitch landed directly above his heart when he turned to bunt, making his heart stop entirely. It’s a condition medically referred to as commotio cordis. Reports indicate he took two steps to first base before collapsing..
He was immediately brought to a hospital but never recovered. Little League games were suspended for two days afterward in Winslow while his community grieved his devastating loss.
CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball, Steve Keener, released a statement to the Associated Press offering condolences:
“Words cannot adequately express our sorrow on the passing of Hayden. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hayden’s family, all the players and volunteers of the Winslow Little League, his classmates, and his friends, at this difficult time. The loss of a child is incomprehensible.”
In addition to a love for sports, Hayden was a Boy Scout and a general good kid, performing odd jobs in his neighborhood like mowing lawns and taking out the trash of older, widowed women.
“It’s a hard thing to handle for everyone,” Walton family spokesman Dale Thomas told the AP. “When you’re touched by something of this magnitude, it sends shock waves throughout the community.”
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