Ever wonder what it feels like to get popped in the jaw with a bat? Ask home-plate umpire Jerry Layne what it feels like, and he can give you a blow-by-blow description - pun intended. A professional baseball player can swing a bat at up to 50 mph, and coming into contact with your jaw would most cause you to see stars, or dirt depending if it knocked you unconscious or not.
On June 22, 2012, Cincinnati Reds' catcher, Devin Mesoraco contacted with a pitch thrown from Minnesota Twins' pitcher, Nick Blackburn. Although Mesoraco grounded out, it isn't the speed of the pitch or a spectacular play that drew attention to this meeting, it was what happened in the split second of ball meeting bat that caused a media reaction. It appeared Mesoraco swung the bat so hard, it rotated around his body and directly into the home-plate umpire's face. In reality, the bat split in Mesoraco's hands and the bat's speed kept the bat moving until the tip of the bat was stopped by Jerry Layne's jaw.
MLB only uses wooden bats, and as a result, many bats break during the course of a season. In a study conducted by the MBL in 2008, more than 2,200 bats broke when coming into contact with a ball, and that was only over a period of 2 1/2 months. Guidelines were put into effect in 2009 in an attempt to avoid broken bats and the dangers often associated with them.
Jerry Layne probably doesn't care about those guidelines now; he is still trying to shake the stars from his head and the soreness from his jaw. The impact instantly took the MLB umpire to the ground for several minutes, but he was able to leave the field under his own steam, along with a little support from the Twins and Reds trainers. X-rays and an MRI came back normal, so thankfully Jerry didn't receive a long-term or life-threatening injury.
Layne will not finish the Twins-Reds series, but you can bet when he does return to the game, he will exchange his traditional style umpire mask for a safer, hockey goalie-style helmet the next time he takes his turn behind the plate.