Athlete’s injury highlights risks in baseball

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's a freak accident that has baseball parents talking.

The son of a former Kansas City Royals infielder is hit in the face during a youth baseball game in South Carolina on June 17th. Now, due to medical complications, he's in a medically induced coma in a Georgia hospital.

Protect yourself. That's what instructors at Mac and Seitz, this popular baseball training facility in Martin City, tell their students. That's especially true in the light of news from June 17th, in which, 15-year old Jason Lockhart, the son of former Royals infielder Keith Lockhart, broke his nose. He's now in a medically induced coma in an Atlanta, Ga. hospital.

Lockhart's sister, Sydney, continues to Tweet photos and updates, asking for prayers for her brother, whom she says is "a champion."

People in the Kansas City metro remember Keith Lockhart's two years as a Royal, 1995 and 1996, and the toughness "Locky" showed in the infield. That includes Mike Macfarlane, retired major league catcher, who played 13 seasons in the majors and 11 as a Royal. He was teammates with Jason's father in 1996.

"With today's social media, things get out there real quick. You send your thoughts and prayers and try to keep up to date on everything," Macfarlane told FOX 4 News on Tuesday.

Macfarlane has co-operated Mac and Seitz, a popular baseball training academy, for 20 years. He stresses young players to protect themselves. However, 15-year old Lockhart was hit in the face while trying to score at home plate. Macfarlane believes Lockhart was powerless to protect himself in that instance.

"To have that happen in such a freak accident as it was, there's no planning for it. There's no preparing. There's no drills you can do. It's an errant throw that came up and hit the young man," Macfarlane said.

The Lockhart accident is on the minds of young players too, including some who seek instruction at Mac and Seitz. Rockhurst High School second baseman Jake Loman says he always wears a helmet at the plate, and tries to stay alert in the field.

"(Accidents like this one) kinda scare me, concerns me a little," Loman said.

"You have to keep your eye on the ball at all times. You can't not be looking at the ball. If you stop paying attention, and the ball hits you in the side of the head, that's not good."

The Royals released a statement on Tuesday afternoon. Team vice-president Toby Cook says the ballclub offers prayers of recovery and support as young Jason fights for his life. Here's Cook's entire statement:

"Like many people, we have been following the family’s posts on social media.  Keith and his family have asked for prayers for Jason, and we certainly offer our prayers of support and recovery during this difficult time."