The placement of bullpens in foul territory at Oracle Park directly led to a career-ending injury and lingering concussion symptoms, according to a lawsuit unveiled by former San Francisco Giants outfielder Johnathan “Mac” Williamson.
Williamson was playing left field for the Giants on April 24, 2018, when he crashed into the bullpen mound while attempting to catch a foul ball; he then collided headfirst into the left-field wall and left the game. He then passed MLB’s concussion protocol and was not placed on injured reserve.
The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court against China Basin Ballpark Company LLC (“CBBC”), the owner and operator of Oracle Park, argues that the accident happened because “on-field bullpens (especially when located near a wall) presented an unreasonable and unnecessary risk of harm to baseball players but proceeded to incorporate them anyway.” A history of other players being injured while maneuvering on-field bullpens should have warned the Giants ownership that the bullpens were a hazard. In the end, the Giants did end up moving the bullpens past new fencing installed in the Oracle Park outfield, as did the Chicago Cubs during the makeover of the Wrigley Field bleachers.
According to a press release, Williamson has struggled with vision problems and other post-concussion symptoms since the collision.
“My life hasn’t been the same since suffering the injury,” Williamson said. “The concussion ended my career and left me with life-long injuries that have also taken a significant toll on my personal life. I’m fortunate to have such an understanding fiancé who has been there every step of the way and helps me get through the days I suffer nausea, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and other issues. I wake up every day hoping that today is a better day and that I will get closer to how I felt before the injury.”
After the concussion, Williamson hit .187 and was optioned to Triple-A before eventually being forced to miss the rest of the season due to continuing post-concussion symptoms. Williamson is currently an unsigned free agent.
Photo, taken in 2015 when Oracle Park was still known as AT&T Park, by Mark Cryan.
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