Softball player wants rec leagues to require pitcher masks after almost losing eye

The softball player wants rec leagues to require pitchers to wear protective masks.

NEXT WITH KYLE CLARK - Adults who once thought they could make it as athletes, and couch potatoes who know they could never make it as athletes have one uniting arena: recreational leagues.

In softball, much like baseball, "keep your eye on the ball" is an oft-used cliché.

Chris Grisley most certainly kept his eye on the ball all the way from the bat to his eye when he was slammed with a line drive earlier this month.

"Ruptured my globe and it broke my jaw. Just broke everything all the way down, and even to the side over here," he said pointing to the side of his face that wasn't hit. "I just didn't have any time to react. It's a crazy thing."


Grisley, who is stuck wearing one of those sprinkler-like patches on his left eye, was pitching in the Denver Parks and Recreation Citywide Sports competitive softball league in the championship game on November 2.

"It was the last out of the game. Just a line drive right up the middle, hit me right in the eye. I went down and the ball just kind of rolled back to home plate," said Grisley.

He never lost consciousness and said it didn't hurt as bad as you'd think.

"I honestly didn't even think it broke any bones. It didn't feel like any bones broke in my face," said Grisley. "I just figured I'd just go to the hospital and get stitches and get out that same night."

Not only was it worse than that, he nearly had his eye removed in surgery.


"The eye surgeon came out, he said it's the worst he's even seen," said Chris' mom, Susie. "He had us all sit down, sadly told us that Christopher's eye was gone. He couldn't save it."

But his eye wasn't gone. Just before they were to do another facial surgery, and also remove his eye, the eye surgeon shined a light causing Chris to flinch.

"There has been some progression," said Chris.

The surgery was called off. Now, Chris expects to wear the stylish eye patch for another three or four months, and he's still not sure what the final prognosis will be.

"It is a mother's worst nightmare, I will be honest. It breaks my heart to see Chris walking around with one eye," said Susie. "My heart is broken for him and what he may have to learn to live with at this point in time."

Chris, who's on a liquid-only diet for eight weeks, doesn't want any other recreational league player to have to experience his trauma.

"That's the one thing I want to share. It could have been prevented if I was wearing a helmet or a mask, and that's what I really want to happen," said Chris. "The pitchers should be required to wear a mask or a helmet, even a lacrosse helmet would even be better."

There are softball masks, that go over your face similar to a very basic catcher's mask. We found some at a sporting goods store for $40-$50.


"It would have saved me that's for sure," said Chris. "I would say, 'why not make it mandatory?""
"Fellas out there, wear your masks. Honest. Yes, I'm for the leagues to require it," said Susie.

If Chris can play again, he said it will be with a mask or helmet.

"I would like to, it just depends on my eye and all that, if I'll be able to, but that's the goal, to play again," said Chris.

9NEWS reached out to multiple cities that run recreational leagues. Denver, Boulder, Parker, Aurora, Lakewood and even Play Mile High Sports.


None of the cities have protection requirements, though there appear to be no restrictions from players wearing extra protection.

Errin Koon, Sports Programs Supervisor in Parker told 9NEWS:

"We have discussed this topic as well as many other issues surrounding player safety and enjoyment as we are constantly reviewing policies to improve our leagues. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a rule in many of the recreational leagues in the Denver Metro Area. Since we do not provide pitcher’s masks (due to hygiene and liability issues), we felt making this a requirement would limit participation. However, we do allow the use at player’s discretion and players are welcome to wear safety gear as they see fit."

Boulder spokeswoman Denise White wrote:

"Currently, Boulder Parks and Recreation has a number of rules and policies in place to ensure the safety of our participants (e.g., bat restrictions, orange safety bag at first base, etc.); however, we do not have a specific guideline related to pitchers wearing protective masks.  
Any player who wishes to wear a protective mask during play is welcome and encouraged to do so as we have no guidelines restricting the use of such gear. 
To date, the department hasn't discussed creating a policy of this nature, but plan to address the topic at an upcoming year-end meeting, particularly as it relates to the men's fastpitch league."

Aurora and Play Mile High Sports did not respond to our morning question.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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