Unlikely Accident Critically Injures Man at Sin City Shootout
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Saturday afternoon went the same for most everyone at the Sin City Shootout. Teams waited to find out their fate in the double elimination bracket and games started between 3 and 5 pm at various field complexes in the Las Vegas area. However, at Shadow Rock park in the Northern part of Las Vegas one man suffered a highly improbable accident while waiting for his team’s game time.
Mike Petracca, a 28-year-old player for the San Diego Firestorm team in the C Division was struck by a wayward bat that left the field of play. The bat struck Petracca from a trajectory of nearly 90 feet sending him to the ground where his head also struck the concrete pavement in between the fields. Emergency crews were on the scene within 20 minutes of the tragedy occurring and after stabilizing him he was taken to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada for emergency treatment.
For Firestorm coach Brian Burnett it all happened very fast. “I was making the line-up for the next game, so I was at a picnic table about 100 feet away and out of the line of sight of the incident. All of the sudden, I heard one of our fans (Michael Stewart) yell for me and say, “Mike was hit with a ball” I was a little confused at first, but then he yelled, “COME NOW!” So I jumped-up and left all of my things behind and ran over to the area,” recalled Burnett. Time stood still for over 30 minutes as Petracca was attended to and folks pitched in to help.
“Mike was on the ground on his back and there were 3-4 people close around him already stabilizing him. I immediately went to his right side, grabbed his hand, and started helping. The people there were from other teams and all had some connection to the medical field (EMT and nurse were two things I heard). They had a hoodie from one of Mike’s Firestorm teammates under his head to help staunch the blood flow. I could see blood coming out of Mike’s right ear and his eyes are unfocused. All spectators were respectful and gave us plenty of room to work without crowding. I asked if 911 had been called and they said yes. From there, we just kept Mike stable until the paramedics arrived,” Burnett stated.
Once Mike was stabilized enough to make the trip to the hospital, that still left the Firestorm with a game to play and Coach Burnett forged forward with what he thought Mike would have wanted. “I knew that I had a devastated team to attend to, so I reluctantly agreed to stay at the fields. After the ambulance left, I pulled my team together and we had a pow-wow. I knew that Mike’s first question would be, “Did we win the next game?” so I convinced everyone that our #1 priority was to do that. They agreed and had a resolve in their eyes the likes of which I’ve never seen,” said Burnett.
The decision to stay and play obviously wasn’t taken lightly, but the Firestorm did stay to compete for their injured teammate. With pride in their hearts and a few tears in their eyes, the Firestorm came back in its first double elimination game of the tournament. The group from San Diego erased a two run deficit in the last inning to gain an emotional win 8-7. “When I went to the hospital, Mike’s first question was “Did we win?”,” said Burnett.
The Firestorm lost its next 2 games of the tournament and finished with a 3-2 record, but in doing so they carried out the wishes of their injured teammate who above all else loves to compete. “He’s one of only a few people I’ve met in my life that I can say has a pure heart. He makes mistakes like all of us, but my friend said it best when he said, “Mike doesn’t know how to be mean.” He’s just a really great guy with a heart of gold,” Burnett added.
After the tournament the true reality of the situation set in from a financial point of view. We can all be thankful that Mike survived this truly unbelievable accident, but even with insurance the bills related to his impending recovery stand to be substantial. That prompted Burnett to start a fundraising campaign on the Go Fund Me website. “A friend suggested it me. I had never really heard of it or used it, but I jumped in and did my best to get something started. I could never have imagined it would be this powerful,” said Burnett.
Powerful is now an understatement in how to describe the outpouring of support Mike’s situation has received, not only in well wishes, but in financial assistance as well. As of 4 pm central time on January 22nd the Go Fund Me campaign page shows a total of $32,650 raised in just over one day’s time! This money will go to help Mike once he is out of the hospital and through his recovery, and the amount of money raised is continuing to go up as this article is posted. “He has been overwhelmed by the support and when we’ve communicated to him how far-reaching his story is, he’s genuinely overwhelmed. I think it’s amazing, because we all know injuries occur during sports events and you expect bruises, broken bones, and the like. However, to have someone suffer such a frightening head injury and while not even on the field of play has really touched people and made them think that it could have been ANY of us at ANY time ANY where,” said Burnett.
Donations have been made by over 450 people and organizations with money amounts ranging from $5 all the way up to a $2,500. The Sin City Shootout contributed the $2,500 and San Diego Flicks contributed another $1,000 to Mike’s fund. Contributions are coming in from all over North America including from the Austin Series 2016 host committee, the Renaissance City Softball League in Rhode Island, NAGAAA Commissioner Chris Balton and the Big Peach Softball Tournament in Atlanta. Additionally, teams and players in cities from Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Twin Cities, Portland, San Diego, Tampa, Tulsa, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, Dallas, Houston and Las Vegas and countless anonymous contributors are among the softball community supporting Mike in his journey to recovery.
The flood of support for Mike has been awe-inspiring. This truly is a lesson in how we as humans can positively affect the lives of one another. Furthermore, this should reaffirm for everyone that participates in NAGAAA events around North America that this is a valuable club we are in. It is valuable on a personal level and not just for social reasons. Many NAGAAA members travel the country on a monthly or quarterly basis to be with their “family”. Someone said once that “we get to choose our family” as we go through life and Mike’s family is out in full force to help him in his time of need. The Diamond Dish wants to wish Mike Petracca the fullest and most productive recovery that anyone can humanely have from this injury and we cannot wait to see Mike back out on a softball field again, playing the game he loves.
On a personal note, I’d like to say that I’ve been doing this blog since the end of April 2014, I’ve played in my local NAGAAA league in Kansas City since 2009 and I’ve been traveling to tournaments since 2010 and I have never been prouder of being a part of this organization and group of men and women as I have been these past few days. I hope that all of our readers give to this cause, even if it’s just $5 and I hope that our readers share this post with other people and keep this issue current so that we might have the ability to see this young man back on the field soon. Seeing the numbers climb steadily today gave me chills and made me so proud to be in this softball community with all of you.
Good luck Mike! We’re all in this together and we’ll see you really soon!
*Thank you to Brian Burnett, manager of the San Diego Firestorm for his contributions to this article and we wish Mike Petracca a speedy and full recovery.*