Denard Span, with the Minnesota Twins, playing the Cleveland Indians in July. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Nationals welcomed centerfielder Denard Span into the fold Thursday and the 28-year-old D.C. native is ready to be a part of the District's baseball resurgence.
“Just from watching TV the last couple years, the new stadium and watching the fan base rallied behind the team last year," Span told reporters Thursday. "I’m definitely excited to call D.C. my home.”
Such a feel-good story, which is why I want to share one that did not feel good for Span's mother.
I want to preface this by saying that Span's mom, Wanda Wilson, was all right and still is. I don't want you to think I'm some insensitive jerk.
Anyways, during a Spring Training game against the Yankees in March 2010, Span -- then with the Twins -- hit a 3-2 pitch into the seats directly to the left of the visitors' dugout. It just so happened that Span's friends and family were sitting in that area.
The ball struck his mother, who was sitting three rows from the field and wearing a Twins jersey with Span's name on it, with a thud that was audible to the players on the Minnesota bench. Span immediately dashed into the seating bowl, consoling her as help arrived.
"It just seemed like everything was in slow motion when I hit the ball," Span said after arriving back in Fort Myers. "I had no idea she was sitting there. I didn't see her before I got up to the plate. But as soon as the ball was in the air, I realized it was going after my mom. When I saw her go down, I couldn't do anything but just run after her and make sure she was OK.
"When it first happened, I kind of froze a little bit. I couldn't believe it actually hit her. I kind of froze. When I actually realized what happened, that's when I took off running."
Paramedics stationed at the stadium checked on Wilson, and while she reported being "sore," she declined to go to a local hospital and instead remained at the stadium, seeking a seat in the shade to rest and watch some more of the game. Span said his mother was administered an electrocardiogram at the stadium.
"Tell everyone that I'm all right," Wanda Wilson told The Associated Press hours later by telephone. "Everyone was so worried, he was so worried. But I'm all right."
Note to the Nationals: save a seat directly behind home plate -- behind the protective mesh -- for Ms. Wilson, please.
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