Longtime American Legion Post 20 Peninsula Twins manager Lance Coz said over the years many people have accused him of being hard-headed.
It turns out they were right.
Coz said he was feeling fine Monday after being struck by a foul ball Sunday in Anchorage while in the third-base coaches' box during a Twins game.
"I still am having headaches, but they are really very minor," said Coz, who sustained a concussion. "More than anything else, my neck is stiff from jerking back when I got hit with the ball."
Coz, in his 26th year as manager of Post 20, was struck by the ball in the top of the fifth inning of the Twins' second game against East. The line drive struck him in the middle of the forehead and bounced about 30 feet up in the air.
Corey Madden, who was pitching for East at the time, throws in the high 80s, so the estimated speed of the foul ball was 90 to 100 mph.
Not only did the ball destroy Coz's baseball cap by tearing the area where the bill and cap meet, but it also opened up a gash in Coz's forehead that took about 10 stitches to close.
"I saw the swing of the bat and then -- boom -- it was there instantly," Coz said. "What I remember is seeing seams a few inches from my forehead.
"There was a lot of blood."
One factor in the accident was the background from the third-base vantage point at Anchorage's K-4 field. The dugouts are painted a tan color, which closely resembles a baseball after it has been rolled in the dirt a few times. Coz said he was told the background color will be changed.
Initially, Coz thought the blow had laid him directly out on his back, but observers told him he went down on his knees before ending up on his back.
"Once I came to, I realized that I was basically going to be OK," Coz said. "I was thinking about the game and having to drive the bus home."
But it soon became apparent that Coz would have nothing to do with the rest of the game, or driving the bus home.
Coz received initial treatment from Twins player Quincy Bird, who has EMT training. An ambulance then came and took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Doctors determined Coz had no broken bones and that he could return home as long as he had someone to stay with him for 24 to 48 hours.
Coz said he was lucky, relatively speaking, to get hit in the center of the forehead, where the bone is strong. If the ball had been just a bit lower in the mouth or eyes, things could have been a lot uglier.
Coz said the team came to visit him in the hospital after the game, as well as the coaches from the opposing team, parents and the director of American Legion baseball in Alaska.
They also brought Coz some good news. When Coz had been hit by the ball, the Twins were tied with East 4-4. After the accident, Post 20 scored 11 runs en route to a 15-7 victory.
"The opposing coaches said the baseball gods must have had something to do with it," Coz said. "But we've been struggling, and it's good to know that when they had a chance for a victory, they didn't let anything keep them from taking it."
Brad Burck pitched all seven innings of the second game for the victory. J.D. Pault led Post 20 at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four runs, while Bird was 3-for-4 with two runs.
In the first game, the Twins lost 7-3. The score was 2-2 in the top of the seventh and the Twins looked poised to take the lead with runners on second and third with one out. However, two strikeouts nixed that rally.
East took that momentum and scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth on Twins starter and loser Aaron Hughes to put the game away.
Cory Janson had two hits in the game for Post 20.
Sunday's first game
THUNDERBIRDS 7, TWINS 3
Post 20 002 000 001 -- 3 5 4
East 011 000 05x -- 7 10 2
Hughes and Evanson; Babcock, Maxwell (8) and Tuck. W -- Maxwell. L -- Hughes. 2B -- East: Babcock, Baldwin 2, Maxwell. LOB -- Post 20 9, East 7.
Sunday's second game
TWINS 15, THUNDERBIRDS 7
Post 20 020 20(10) 1 -- 15 19 9
East 400 030 0 -- 7 7 1
Burck and Payment; Madden, Thompson (6) and Tuck. W -- Burck. L -- Madden. 2B -- Post 20: Bird; East: Babcock, Madden, McLeod. 3B -- Post 20: E. Newby; East: Thompson.
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