A freak injury at the end of a game at a youth baseball tournament Monday resulted in a Burnt Hills youth baseball coach severing part of his finger.
The incident happened at Blatnick Park in Niskayuna during the Cal Ripken Eastern New York State Tournament for 9-year-olds.
Fred Veronezi, head coach and father of one of the players, severed his finger after catching his wedding ring on the dugout fence at Blatnick Park while trying to get a better look at the final play, fellow coach Andrew Haluska said.
The incident happened as rival Niskayuna scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth and final inning in a walk-off 5-4 victory.
As Niskayuna celebrated the win, which gave them a birth in the tournament championship, coaches quickly sent the teams away from the infield, away from Veronezi and the Burnt Hills dugout.
There was also a call for someone to contact emergency services. The Daily Gazette was present for a feature on the tournament.
“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the people of Niskayuna and the help — the medical people were perfect,” Haluska told The Daily Gazette minutes after an ambulance took Veronezi from the infield for treatment at Albany Medical Center.
“Now we’ll let doctors take care of it and hopefully, he’ll be as good as new,” Haluska added.
Haluska didn’t see the incident happen. He said later he spoke with Veronezi at the hospital and Veronezi told him it happened as he was trying to get a better look at the final play.
The Burnt Hills dugout was along the third-base line and the winning run came in on a throw that got past the Burnt Hills third baseman and went into left field.
As the coaches waited for paramedics to arrive, parents with medical backgrounds stepped in to tend to Veronezi, Haluska said. Veronezi was alert throughout.
Haluska identified Burnt Hills mothers Kit Townsend, an athletic trainer, and Sue Schnitzler, an emergency room nurse at Albany Medical Center, as stepping in and offering their expertise. A parent who was a doctor also ran over from the adjoining field where Saratoga and North Colonie were playing. Haluska did not know his name.
“They came in and they knew what to do,” he said. Everything was put in ice.
As for the kids, all 9- and 10 years old, Haluska said his training as a teacher kicked in and they got the kids out of the immediate area as quickly as they could. He is a teacher in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District.
The Niskayuna team, which had just been celebrating its victory jumping and cheering, was sent down to right field and told to sit near the outfield fence as the situation was being assessed.
It was only apparent that there was an injury in the aftermath. The exact nature of what had happened wasn’t immediately known to those farther away.
With Veronezi tended to, Niskayuna head coach Mike Kenyon turned to clearing the path for the ambulance.
The win put Niskayuna in the tonight’s 6 p.m. championship game against Saratoga. Kenyon, though, noted that was completely secondary to what happened.