Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz had no idea that after the bat slipped out of his hands at a game against the Atlanta Braves on March 5, things almost got serious for a young fan.
During the game, Ortiz lost grip of the bat after striking out and it flew behind the Braves' dugout. As the bat flew into the stands, a boy was looking down at his cell phone and not paying attention to the impending danger.
Before the boy knew it, an adult seated next to him stuck out his arm and blocked the bat from hitting the boy in the face -- preventing a potentially life-altering accident.
"I didn't know what happened, if it [hurt] the boy or anything," Ortiz told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I went home, and my wife said to me, ‘You almost killed that kid!'"
The outfielder's wife showed him a photo of the incident, taken by Tribune-Review photographer Christopher Horner. The photo shows the bat just inches from the boy's face.
Horner posted two photos to Twitter: one showing the remarkable save and another right after it.
"The two frames showing just how close the bat was to the boy's head," Horner tweeted.
"I saw the picture," Ortiz said. "It was crazy. That guy took a shot for the kid. He protected that kid.”
In a similar situation in Kansas in August 2015, a 9-year-old boy was fatally struck in the head with a baseball bat, The Wichita-Eagle reported. He was hit by a practice swing during a National Baseball Congress World Series game.
A home-plate umpire, also a paramedic, treated the boy until EMS workers arrived. They were ultimately unable to save him.
The boy, Kaiser Carlile, was reportedly beloved by those in the community as well as the team players.
"Kaiser can’t wait to get to the ballpark every day," Kaiser's relative, Mike Carlile, said. "Watching him interact with the guys on the team is comical. They kid each other, gig each other. ... Kaiser and our head coach were very tight. It was special. This is just a crappy deal.”