In an era of self-absorption and chest thumping by players in all sports, despite the painful events as the igniter, class and respect was on display Wednesday night by the New York Mets and Atlanta, with Braves pitcher Tim Hudson on the giving and receiving ends.
By know, you’ve probably all seen the gruesome replay of the Mets’ Eric Young stepping on and fracturing Hudson’s ankle. He’ll undergo surgery in Atlanta and could be lost for the year.
What you might not have seen was Young checking on David Wright after the Mets’ third baseman’s bat snapped and cracked him on the back of the head.
The gesture did not go unnoticed in the Mets’ dugout. “The first guy when the bat broke and hit David, Tim’s standing right there to make sure he’s OK. That’s the kind of guy he is,’’ Terry Collins said.
When you extend class and courtesy, it comes back to you, and Hudson felt the warmth from the Citi Field crowd, but also compassion from Wright and Young, who both stayed by Hudson as paramedics treated him on the field.
“It sucks,’’ a saddened Wright told reporters. “I’ve gotten a chance to be around Tim at All-Star games and playing against him for so long. He’s one of the good guys in the game and to see him go down like that and know something was wrong, it’s tough to watch.’’
Outside of Hudson, the only person who felt worse was Young, who knew he got Hudson’s ankle and none of the base. Young immediately sprinted to Hudson and bent over to pat him on the back.
Young stayed with Hudson throughout the time he was being treated, and shook his hand as he was carted off the field, perhaps for the last time this season.
“You never want to injure anybody,’’ Young said told reporters after the game. “I knew I didn’t get any of the base. I know I got all of his foot. … I pretty much knew it was probably broke right as I did it. That’s why I sprinted right back to him and try to console him as much as I could and apologize.”
Covering first base is a dangerous play for a pitcher because his eyes are on the ball and not the runner or the base. The pitcher winds up “feeling’’ for the base with his foot, and Hudson’s was squarely on the middle. There was no place else for Young to run.
Young said Hudson told him an apology wasn’t necessary as they shook hands on the field. Hudson repeated those words to Young when the Mets’ outfielder checked on him in the Braves’ clubhouse.
“I obviously wasn’t trying to hurt him on the play,’’ Young said. “He just told me to keep my head up and keep playing the game the hard way, the right way. He said there was nothing I can do about it.
“That made me feel somewhat better, but still bummed that he’s going to be out for a while. I just hope he has a speedy recovery.’’