The silent scream of an inbound baseball was interrupted by its pop against skull and then the chilling squeal of a little girl whose face was buried in the shoulder of her horrified daddy.
Seconds earlier, Keelyn Merworth, 6, had been enjoying a July 3 Oklahoma City RedHawks game with her family at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Fun turned to fright when Merworth was on the receiving end of a foul ball fired into the third-base-side lower seats by a Memphis Redbirds batter. Larry Merworth grabbed his bloodied daughter out of wife Shelley's lap. He raced up the stairs to waiting RedHawks staff members, who were quick with ice bags and a call for paramedics.
“She was just shuddering in my lap,” said Shelley Merworth, choking back tears during a telephone interview with The Oklahoman. “I grabbed our 3-year-old (son Lawson) and followed them up the stairs. I did not know if she had lost an eye ... it was just horrible.”
Keelyn Merworth is doing fine three weeks after one of the toughest but bravest days of her short life. The soon-to-be first-grader suffered a busted blood vessel and two swollen blood vessels in the right eye, a cut that required eight stitches from the Children's Hospital emergency room crew and a mild concussion. A doctor told Keelyn's parents if the ball had hit a quarter of an inch closer to the temple, “we would've not had such a positive outcome,” Larry Merworth said.
The Merworths live in Aledo, Texas, but often visit Oklahoma City. This time, they were here so Larry could complete orientation with a new employer. The family received guest tickets to the ballgame, which would be followed by a holiday fireworks show. Shelley said they were warned before the game to keep an eye on the field during play since foul balls from left-handed batters could easily reach the lower-bowl seats.