Pictured: Moment quick thinking dad saves his son from flying baseball bat
Shaun Cunningham had taken his son Landon to see a baseball match when the bat rocketed out of the player's hands and into the stand
Published 10/03/2016 | 07:46
A father who was captured on camera instinctively shielding his son from a flying baseball bat has spoken for the first time of the moment he saved his eight-year-old’s life.
Shaun Cunningham, 37, took his son Landon to watch his first ever game of professional baseball on Saturday, cheering on the Atlanta Braves against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a spring training game in Orlando.
Danny Ortiz, a Pirates outfielder, let go of the bat and it hurtled towards the crowds sitting in the stands. Mr Cunningham and his son were seated just above where the protective netting stopped.
In June last year, a woman struck by a broken bat in Boston suffered what was described as life-threatening injuries. That was among the cases that prompted Major League Baseball to recommend in December that all clubs erect protective.
Christopher Horner, a photographer for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, took a photo of the moment, which quickly went viral.
“The only thing between the bat and the boy was his father’s arm,” said Mr Horner. “It was his instinct. He was on the ball.”
Mr Cunningham said his son was looking down because he had taken a photo, and was texting it to his mother at the time.
“So while he was looking at the picture I made sure I was paying attention to everything,” he said, explaining his response.
When he returned home, he told his wife Ashley that there had been “a bit of an incident”, which left him with bruises.
Mrs Cunningham said she was “sick to the stomach” when she saw the photo – which soon became an internet sensation.
“It’s been crazy,” said Mr Cunningham. “The last 24 hours have been out of control.”
Mr Horner, the photographer, said he realised Mr Cunningham’s quick-thinking saved his son’s life.
“I made this photo of a guy being a hero,” he said. “But a split second difference and I would have had an image no one would have wanted to see.”