Home > Uncategorized > Man Dies On The Field At Dodger Stadium Prior To Thursday Night’s Game

Man Dies On The Field At Dodger Stadium Prior To Thursday Night’s Game

Have you ever seen a man die? Not in the movies. Not even in one of those “Faces Of Death” videos that were so popular when I was a teenager.

Have you ever seen a man die right in front of you in all of life’s reality?

Maybe you have. I probably did Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

About 40 minutes prior to first pitch while the Padres are still taking batting practice, I see a crowd of about 10 people gathering by the Dodgers’ dugout. But those aren’t your common ushers. Those are policemen, and they seem to be looking down. It doesn’t take long to realize that someone has collapsed on the field and is in great distress.

Within minutes, the on-site ambulance comes onto the field. The Padres stop batting practice, realizing that something much more serious than game preparation is occurring to their left. The PA announcer halts his welcome notes. The music is turned down to a whisper pitch.

People ask me what’s going on. I can only say I think an usher or a security guard collapsed on the field. I don’t know whom he is or whether he has been hit by a ball or stricken by his own body. But in that moment, details don’t matter. Someone is dying on the Dodgers’ center stage in front of about 20,000 people. That’s all that matters.

I pull out my dad’s pocket digital camera and take some very amateur photos from the upper deck along the third-base side. Part of me feels that taking pictures of such an event is tacky, but I’ve never seen anything like this. I feel a need to record it.

The medics begin working feverishly to re-start the man’s heart. I can easily see the bald-headed man in the above photo shaking up and down due to the amount of force he is putting on the dying man’s chest.

Then he stops. It looks like the man on the field has come to. At least for a minute. They slide a backboard underneath him and attempt to hoist him up onto a stretcher.

But they suddenly pause and the bald-headed man resumes his work with his hands and a defibrillator. Whatever positive developed in the past minute or two has obviously receded.

After about 20 minutes of doing all they can on the field, the medics get the man into an ambulance and he is driven off the field to a smattering of applause. It’s not that the crowd doesn’t care about the dying man’s fate. They don’t know how to react. How are we supposed to seamlessly go from that to having a realistic conversation about Kevin Correia’s chances tonight?

The pregame festivities try to pick up wherever they left off, no matter how awkward it feels now. It’s Mormon Community Night at the stadium and a group of 4,000 Mormons are in attendance. A few of them are a part of the first-pitch ceremonies. Just before they take their places, the PA announcer says the group wants you to keep the dying man in your thoughts and prayers.

I thought they were just being courteous. It wasn’t until after I got home that I found out the truth of that statement.

That dying man was that group’s leader. He was scheduled to throw out the game’s first pitch. And just 30 minutes prior to doing something that not many people get to do, but everyone would love to get the opportunity, he’s lifeless. You can’t help but realize the fragility that we carry with us every day, which could be your last day, no matter your plans.

Articles have stated Don Hawkins died on the way to the hospital. In my opinion, I was watching when he took his last breath. I think once they started administering CPR a second time, he never responded. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that. And I’m not sure if that emotional indecisiveness is good or bad.

Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia hit the weakest inside-the-park home run in league history later that night. It’s the first of its kind that I’ve seen live at an MLB game. I wish it was the only first I saw on a baseball field Thursday night.

R.I.P., Mr. Hawkins.

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  1. Kara Turner Matsuda
    August 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for your respectful observation. I want you to know something about this man, Don Hawkins, from Newbury Park. I grew up in his congregation. He made regular visits to our home to teach and assist us in anything we may have needed. When my brother died in a tragic accident, Brother Hawkins and his wife (the woman pictured in the blue top and white pants) were one of the first to arrive. Sister Hawkins brought her famous cinnamon rolls. They are those kind of people. Brother Hawkins was hard working, honest, kind, and funny. He was an inspired man of God. He was a good, good man and many are feeling heavy hearted at his departure from this life. My heart goes out to his wife, children and grandchildren.

    • spokes310
      August 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

      First of all, thank you very much for reading, Kara.
      I’m not a man of any religion, but regardless of your viewpoint, this is about the loss of a person. I didn’t know him at all, but I appreciate you giving your opinion on him. I am very empathetic toward those who loved and looked up to him. I feel for the loss that you and many others are coping with today.

  2. Anonymous
    September 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I sincerely hope something prompts you to read this because I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your sincere and respectful article. Don Hawkins was my older brother. I am especially grateful of the pictures you took because I feel that I was at my brother’s “bedside” when he passed away. I don’t feel that you were being tacky at all and I thought your choice of words “I feel a need to record it” were very interesting. Perhaps it was for us, his siblings, who live in Idaho, Utah, and Texas, that you took the pictures so that we could feel that we were with our brother in his last moments. Thank you. Continue to follow those “promptings” to do good things.

  3. spokes310
    September 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for your very kind words, sir. They mean a lot to me. I can’t relate to the loss you and the rest of your family have tried to cope with through the past month, but it’s good to know that my entry carries some measure of positive impact on you. I greatly appreciate you expressing your thoughts.

    Thank you again, sir. I wish you the best as you move forward in life.

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