March 13, 2012
One Scary Collision
"Whenever you see infielders or outfielders collide on a pop fly, you know that someone wasn't paying attention. I always told our outfielders to yell so I could get out of the way if they were going to catch a pop-up. If you both yell for the catch, you won't hear each other. When I was with the Astros, our left fielder, Jesus Alou, and our shortstop, Hector Torres, were both yelling as they went after a pop fly. They collided and Hector nearly choked to death on his tongue. Make sure that you have your signals straight before each game so you can avoid that kind of catastrophe."
As you might guess, this story kind of jumped out at me. A player almost choked to death on his own tongue after a collision in the field?! That couldn't be true - could it?
It didn't take long to find details on the story. The collision occurred on June 10, 1969:
The Houston teammates collided chasing a fly off the bat of Pirates outfielder Al Oliver into shallow left field at the Astrodome.
Morgan got the name of the injured player switched, but the rest of his story is right. According to the game report, both Torres and Alou were carried off the field on stretchers. Alou suffered a "severe concussion".
Also on the field was Matty Alou, Jesus' brother and the Pirates centerfielder. Matty played the rest of the game for Pittsburgh before he was able to get to the hospital to check on his brother. Neither Torres nor Jesus Alou played in another game for the next month after the collision.
I've never been one to scoff at the danger of on-field collisions in a baseball game, but the threat of choking to death on one's own tongue has never crossed my mind. That's some scary stuff.