3/17 Get well, Luis Salazar

Blake DeWitt was watching the Braves’ Spring Training game on TV Wednesday, hoping for news about his former Minor League manager and hitting coach Luis Salazar. Salazar, who played for the Cubs from 1989-92, lost his left eye in a freak accident when he was hit in the face by a foul ball during a Grapefruit League game.

“He was a very good friend,” DeWitt said Thursday. “He was a great guy, fun to be around, loved the game. He was a joy to be around every day. It’s an unfortunate deal. I saw that he lost his eye. You’re also thankful he’s still alive. He’s definitely in my thoughts and my prayers are with him and his family.”

Are there things Salazar taught DeWitt that he still uses?

“He just loved the game,” DeWitt said. “He was full of energy, fun to be around, knowledgeable, willing to help anybody. It was a freak accident.”

Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams said he began this spring standing on the top step to watch the games. After the Salazar incident, Williams said he moved back behind the screens.

“You can’t guard against everything,” Williams said.

There aren’t many options to protect players and coaches in the dugouts unless they put screens over the entire thing.

“It’s just one of those things — you’re so close,” DeWitt said. “Sometimes you don’t have   a chance. Every once in a while, it happens [that someone is hit] and it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more.”

— Carrie Muskat

1 Comment

Hi Carrie,

I remember back in 1989 when the Cubs brought Luis Salazar and I think Wynne over in a late trade that helped propel them to the playoffs. Luis Salazar was very important to the team. A solid major leaguer.

I’m sad to learn about his eye and I can’t help but say that while losing an eye is rare, more people get injured by errant baseballs than anyone really tracks or realizes. I was at spring training in Surprise 2 years ago and a lady in our group was hit square in the eye. The ball shattered her sunglasses, orbital bone and nose. She was able to make a full recovery, but because she was a spectator there was no press about it.

I have a friend who was waiting in line for a beer at a minor league game in Portland that same year and took a liner off her temple. They had to remove part of her skull to relieve the pressure on her brain. Never saw that in the paper either.

I hope teams, coaches, players and fans will all take this as a reminder that you need to pay attention at ALL TIMES. If you have a child with you it’s even more important. It’s okay to bring a glove to the ballpark. If I’d had one with me then my friend would never have been hit. I wasn’t able to stop that ball with my bare hand, though it left a red mark on my finger.

One of the great things about baseball is the chance to catch a souvenir ball…unfortunately that’s also a real risk about watching baseball.


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