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A freak pie mishap once ended a baseball player’s season

When a post-game celebration took out the reigning NL Rookie of the Year

On July 25th, 2010, the Florida Marlins hosted the Atlanta Braves. The game went into extras, and in the bottom of the 10th reigning NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan lined a single into left field.

Compared to his 2009, in which he hit an incredible .321/.390/.460, Coghlan was having a down year. But that was ok. There was plenty of time to turn things around. The Marlins trusted the versatile sophomore, leaving him in the leadoff spot despite his struggles. A few good games and he’d be right out of his slump.

But as it turned out, that single would be his last contribution of the year.

Things unravelled for the Braves in the bottom of the 11th. With the game tied 4-4, Jesse Chavez had the unenviable task of dealing with Hanley Ramirez then Dan Uggla to lead things off; he failed on both counts. Back to back singles and then an intentional walk to Cody Ross loaded the bases for Wes Helms, who promptly ended the game with a ground ball through the hole at short.

The Marlins had beaten the Braves, getting themselves to .500 in the process, and were in the mood to celebrate. The team rushed the field, cavorting with Ramirez and Helms in time-honored baseball tradition. But it didn’t end there. Tradition also dictates that walk-off hits earn their perpetrator some sort of mid-interview surprise, and Coghlan was assigned to provide it.

He chose the shaving cream pie to the face, a celebratory staple. A pie-ing is — or should be — a relatively simple process.

  1. Fill ‘pie’ with shaving cream.
  2. Sneak up behind victim.
  3. Apply pie to unsuspecting face.

In this photo, first published in the Miami Herald and credited directly to the Florida Marlins, you can see where things went wrong:

Step 1 seems to have been executed competently enough. But Step 2? Not so much. Look at Point A in the photo. Like a leopard which breaks cover too soon, Coghlan has made an absolute mess of his supposed ambush. What should have been a stealthy shuffle has turned into a flying leap from too far away. At this point I should remind the audience that this is taking place in a baseball dugout, and that dugouts have concrete steps. And I don’t trust him sticking the landing from that position.

As we see in Point B, Coghlan’s erratic approach to his target has led to Helms taking evasive action. Ducking apparently so disturbs his attacker that the pie ends up being jammed into the interviewer’s microphone rather than Helms’ waiting face. This isn’t just a pie mishap; it’s a badly failed one.

But then what? Where’s the derailment. Let’s fast-forward exactly two days and see what’s up with Chris Coghlan, as per The Palm Beach Post:

Left fielder Chris Coghlan didn’t start Monday because of a sore left knee. He was hit by a pitch Sunday and complained Monday morning after the team’s five-hour flight to San Francisco. Emilio Bonifacio started in his place.

Ok, so first of all, Coghlan was not hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game, which is the one we’ve been talking about. He was, however, hit by Kris Medlen during Saturday’s. Apparently that didn’t bother him enough to stop him starting the next game. So. Something smelled awfully fishy in Marlinsville. But what?

Everyone found out a day later, when Coghlan went on the disabled list, an MRI showing a torn meniscus in his left knee. According to the Miami Herald, the hit-by-pitch story was a fib, an attempt to avoid the embarrassment of having injured himself celebrating. The prognosis was that Coghlan would be out for two weeks, perhaps as many as eight if surgery was required.

Surgery was required. Coghlan missed the rest of the season. And that is how a pie mishap felled the reigning National League Rookie of the Year.