KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium was very painful for one Royals fan. He's still feeling the effects of being hit in the face by a foul ball.
Kevin Roller, who hails from Overland Park, Kan., said he never saw the foul ball coming. It was on Tuesday, as the Royals held their annual Opening Day, hosting the New York Mets in an afternoon game.
During the fifth inning, Royals Catcher Salvador Perez fouled a pitch off. It went into the stands and hit Roller right in the face. The foul ball struck just above his upper lip.
“He just hit a line drive straight at me,” Roller said.
Roller, who works as a mortgage banker, said he stood up and collapsed in the aisle outside Section 117.
“After it hit, I lost a couple of seconds,” Roller said.
Stadium ushers were quick to call paramedics in to help. Photos from the Roller Family show Kevin being helped to First Aid by using a wheelchair. He suffered a deep cut in his upper lip. FOX Sports Kansas City’s broadcast of Tuesday’s game show Perez wincing in concern, as the ball sliced toward the third base stands.
“I didn't feel anything. It just knocked me out. It was crazy,” Roller said.
Roller’s season tickets have him sitting just outside the newly expanded safety nets, which stretch from dugout to dugout. Beginning this baseball season, Major League Baseball required all 30 of its ballparks to provide more netting to protect fans.
“I had blood all over. It cut me on my nose. It cut me here. It cut me under my lip. I was bleeding all over,” Roller said.
The Royals assigned a medical staff member to tend to roller's injury, which required several stitches. Roller said he was paying attention to the game, and although he’s used the same seats since last season, he’d never seen a foul ball come in his direction. Roller said he isn’t at all angry with Perez, who hit the ball, or with Royals managers.
“They were so nice to me. If they would have been, I don't know, coarse or non-responsive, but they were so nice,” Roller said.
Toby Cook, Vice President-Community Affairs & Publicity, said paramedics are always on hand at the stadium, and fan safety is top priority.
“If you feel uncomfortable where you're sitting, you can go to guest services and ask to be re-assigned,” Cook told FOX 4 News. “That's become more difficult for us because we have a full house, so we don't have those empty seats, but the guys figure it out somehow.”
Roller said in the long run, he believes he'll be okay, but had that pitch hit him in a different part of his face, it might have cost him teeth, an eye or maybe even worse. He said he has no interest in pursuing legal action against the Royals, and he wants Salvy to know he’s okay.