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Mets Pitcher Struck in Face by Batted Ball

Apr. 3, 1964 - The pitcher’s nightmare, a liner smashing into the face, struck the New York Mets’ Carl Willey today, causing a complex-compound fracture of the right lower jaw. He was taken to Florida Pasadena Hospital where the jaw was wired by Dr. Fred C. Nichols. The chief fracture was wired, and the other minor ones were left to take care of themselves.

Dr. Nichols declined to say how long Willey would be out of action. “It all depends on how well the wiring holds,” he said.

Willey bled from a wide split of the tissue, about an inch vertical, at the tip of the mandible, just below the right ear.

He was examined in the clubhouse by Dr. Thomas McMicken. In answer to a question from Dr. McMicken, Willey said the drive did not hit him flush. “I got a little bit of my glove on it,” said Carl.

“Are you dazed?” said the doctor as he lifted the lid of each eye.

“No,” said Willey, whose complexion was pale, bordering on light green.

“You’ll probably be drinking a lot of milkshakes through a straw for a while,” said Dr. McMicken.

“I can use it,” said slender Willey, tapping his flat stomach. He didn’t try to smile.

The frightening shot back to the box, which drew a gasp from the 1,142 fans, was off the swing of Tiger outfielder Gates Brown in the seventh inning of the Mets’ 9-1 victory over Detroit. Willey threw his glove up at the last second. The ball struck and the glove fell to the ground as the ball bounced straight to first baseman Dick Smith for an easy out.

Willey was bent over, his hands on his knees and head bowed. Teammates rushed to him, and he was led off the field.

As he approached the bench, Carl drew his hand across the injured area and looked at the palm. It was smeared with blood.

Willey has been the Mets’ outstanding pitcher in camp. He hadn’t given up a run this spring until an inning before the accident — and that one was unearned.

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