Orioles catcher (above, with A's, getting hit by Arizona's Greg Colbrunn in2000)
"Every collision hurts," says Hernandez, who has twice been sidelinedby knee injuries sustained at the plate. "You try to put your bodysoft--that allows you to take the hit easier. You [want] to catch and securethe ball, get good position and get down quick. If I get hit when I am up high,that's when it's a hard hit. I don't hear the crowd. The only thing I worryabout is staying with the ball."
The St. Louis backup recalls getting run over by then Dodger Brian Jordan whenBennett was a Padre in 2003 (left). "Fred McGriff hit a double down therightfield line. The relay came to [second baseman] Mark Loretta. I looked up,and Jordan was at full steam rounding third. I wasn't looking forward to whatwas going to happen; he was an All-Pro--caliber safety in the NFL. It's not avery good feeling. [Loretta's throw] bounced once, twice, and as soon as I gotthe ball, Jordan smoked me head over heels. I tore my MCL [and missed a month].Going into this job, you know this is part of the gig. I don't know if we'rebrave or dumb. I've got to say dumb."
PAUL LO DUCA
"More guys get hit when the ball is coming in from rightfield because youcan't see the runner coming," says Lo Duca (right, getting plowed over bythe Phillies' Shane Victorino earlier this season). "When the ball is inleft or center, you sort of have a feel. What I try to do is give the runnerhalf of the plate. If he sees half the plate, he's going to slide; if hedoesn't see any of the plate, he's going to run you over. Brian Jordan had thebiggest hit I've ever seen, on Gary Bennett. I felt sorry for Gary because hetried to catch the next pitch and fell down. Brian will go after you."
Former Indians catcher
Fosse, now an A's broadcaster, got barreled over by the Reds' Pete Rose in the1970 All-Star Game (left). "What bothers me is that Pete denies he couldhave slid in," says Fosse. "He could have. I didn't expect that kind ofhit. He fractured and separated my left shoulder, and I didn't know it--I keptplaying until September 1. I had 16 homers at the All-Star break, and I onlyhit two more [that year]. My career went downhill. Pete once signed a ball forme and wrote, thanks for making me famous. The collision played into hisCharlie Hustle reputation. The irony is that when he went to prison [for taxevasion in '90], it was in my hometown, Marion, Illinois."
"I try to stay away from the runner," says the 14-year veteran (below,with then Red Sock Mark Bellhorn). "Unless it is a winning run, I try tojust put one foot blocking the plate and the rest of my body out of the way.The worst feeling is when he knocks you out and you lose the ball." Lopezabsorbed his worst big league collision in 1994, getting bulldozed by the lateKen Caminiti, an Astro. "He killed me," says Lopez of Caminiti. "Hehit me so hard, I was almost in the dugout. I remember the gasp from the crowd.That was the third out, and when I sat down [on the bench], I started torecover. It felt like a car hit me. It doesn't matter how big the player is.The runner always has the advantage."
"Gary Sheffield absolutely crushed me. I was in la-la land," saysKendall of a 1999 collision in Dodger Stadium (below, right) when he was aPirate. "I kept saying the same three words over and over: 'Did we win?'Our manager, Gene Lamont, had been in a wheelchair [with a strained back] forthree weeks, and I asked him, 'Why are you in a wheelchair?' I led off the nextinning, and I swung at three pitches in the dirt. Then I went out to the moundand kept asking, 'What are the fundamental signs?' or something stupid. [Thenext day] I called Gene Lamont at four in the morning and said, 'I better beplaying tonight.' I played. For the next two weeks I was dazed. I had asecond-degree concussion. But I held on to the ball."
"The worst hit I've had was in the minors, in Double A against theCardinals farm team," Matheny (below, with the Rockies' Matt Holliday)recalls. "They had Paul Coleman. He wasn't big [5'11", 200 pounds], buthe was fast. I didn't want to show I was hurt, but I was. It was the last out,so I got up and started going to the dugout. Only it was their dugout. What Ilearned that day was never to flip my mask off. I keep it on all the time forprotection. The most important thing when a guy is coming down the line is toget yourself in place and establish a position. You have to stay in place andstay low. The only thing you don't like is guys coming in with elbows high. Youknow the runner is doing his job, but it still ticks you off. You don'tforget."