[singlepic id=1199 w=320 h=240 float=right]Not many Major League Baseball (MLB) players can say that they are actually strong enough to kill a bird with a baseball.

But there are some baseball players out there who actually are strong enough to kill a bird with a baseball.

According to the “ESPN Uncyclopedia,” five baseball players affiliated with the MLB have killed a bird during a game (I found a few more than five).

The first recorded instance of a bird being killed by a baseball was in 1981. In a game between the Class A Northwest division rivals, Oregon and Medford, future MLB standout, Eric Davis took a swing that ended the life of a poor bird, mid-flight.

The most interesting part of this entire occurrence, is that an outfielder made the catch following the   incident.

The second time that this incident was reported occurred in 1983 during warm-ups between innings.

According to the book, “Diamonds in the Rough: The Untold Story of Baseball,” written by Joel Zoss and John Bowman, April 4, 1983 was another disastrous day for our friends of flight.

Zoss and Bowman said that David Winfield of the New York Yankees was warming up for another inning in the field when the incident occured in Toronto, Canada.

Winfield threw a ball to one of his pinstripe counterparts when it struck an innocent seagull that was walking across the field. According to “Diamonds in the Rough,” a Toronto ball boy covered the seagull with a cloth and carried it off the field.

Needless to say, the seagull died that day. Later in the day, Winfield was actually arrested by Toronto Police for cruelty to animals. To no surprise, these charges didn’t hold up and were dropped the next day.

Winfield was actually thrown in handcuffs because of this incident. According to Toronto law, Winfield could have faced up to six months in jail.

The next time a bird was innocently murdered at the hands of a professional baseball player occurred in 1987, according to the book “Diamonds in the Rough.”

Alex Reisner, baseball statistician and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research wrote an entire article on bird killing baseball players. In this article, he discussed the 1987 incident.

Reisner said that during the third inning of a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets, Dion James of the Braves struck a dove flying across the outfield.

The dove fell to the ground, dying on impact. And according to Reisner, James stood on second base with a double. Shortstop from the New York Mets, Rafael Santana collected the bird and gave it to the ball girl. The ball girl then deposited the bird underneath the stands, Reisner said.

Possibly one of the most memorable bird-killing incidents, of my generation at least, involved Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher  Randy Johnson.

Randy Johnson is especially well known for his incredibly hard fastball. That fastball has won him a number of awards in the past.

According to MLB.com, Johnson was a ten-time all-star, a five-time Cy Young winner and a World Series MVP. One statistic MLB.com does not provide is that Randy Johnson killed an innocent dove in a MLB exhibition game in 2001 against the San Fransisco Giants.

One of the most memorable Youtube videos I have ever seen is of this very incident. Literally, as the ball hits the bird, halfway to home plate, there is a major explosion of feathers. If you have not seen this video, please do yourself a favor, open up Youtube.com and search “Randy Johnson hits bird.”

Most of these athletes had absolutely no malicious intent behind these feathery misfortunes. But of course, there’s that one jerk who deserves to have the book thrown at him.

Probably one of the more disturbing incidents that I came across upon researching this topic occurred in April of 2003.

Charles Robinson, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, published an article on July 13, 2003 discussing the incident.

Robinson said Jae Kuk Ryu, a former Major League Baseball player, purposely killed an Osprey in Daytona Beach, Fla on a day when the ballpark was completely empty. Ospreys are actually protected in Florida. So Ryu faced animal cruelty charges that were eventually dropped.

According to Robinson, the osprey that Ryu launched a baseball at from the bullpen was the ballparks token osprey, named Ozzy. The bird died six days later, Robinson said. I find it personally disturbing that this guy would huck a baseball at this innocent, state-wide protected osprey. But I don’t think he needs anymore scorning from offended sports journalists. It seems that this was the most newsworthy incident of his career.

About two months after the incident, Ryu told journalist Charles Robinson (through broken english) that he “didn’t want anyone to think he was a bad person.”

Well, Jae Kuk Ryu, I do think you are a bad person. But we are all entitled to our own opinions.

Thank god I have my own column to express these opinions in.

 

Michelle Berthiaume

can be contacted at

mberthiaume@keene-equinox.com