Last March, Shaun Cunningham jumped into hero-mode at the Braves-Pirates game when a wayward baseball bat came flying towards his son Landon’s face. 8-year-old Landon was excited to watch his favorite team play and was taking pictures on his dad’s phone when outfielder David Ortiz lost control of the bat.
What happened next warmed hearts all over the internet.
“The bat came flying at me, my dad did this to block me,” Landon said, throwing his arm in front of his face. “It was going so fast I didn’t even hear it.”
The two were sitting three rows behind the Braves dugout. When the baseball bat flew out of Ortiz’s hand, Shaun Cunningham had only a few moments to spare.
“I was watching the game and I saw the bat flying,” Cunningham said. “It just slipped out of Danny Ortiz’s hand. And I saw it heading towards him [Landon]. I didn’t have a lot of time. Guess I’d call it Dad-mode. Just protecting my son.”
With a thrust of one arm, Cunningham took the brunt of the bat’s trajectory before it continued to soar over Landon’s head. The bat’s impact on Shaun’s arm resulted in the development of a deep bruise—a small price to pay for what could have been for Landon a much more serious injury. Shaun and Landon were able to keep the bat and Landon now hopes Ortiz will sign it.
Ortiz wasn’t aware of what had occurred until his wife, who saw the pictures online, said to him: “You almost killed that kid!”
Meanwhile, the MLB has addressed the issue of fans’ safety at baseball games, extending the protective nets that safeguard against rogue balls and bats. Nonetheless, even with preventative measures, accidents can still happen. If attending a game, remember to be, as was Shaun Cunningham, vigilant of your surroundings.
The picture of Shaun and Landon speaks a thousand words about the sacrificial love a father has for a son. While other spectators are leaping out of the way of the bat, Shaun Cunningham heroically puts himself in harm’s way in order to save Landon. The moment perfectly captures the essence of fatherhood.
Landon himself summed it up well: “I have a great dad!” he exclaimed. “My dad’s a hero!”