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Former MLB Player Sues Ballpark Over Concussion

Andy Berg

Former Major League Baseball player, Johnathan “Mac” Williamson, announced Tuesday that he has filed a lawsuit against China Basin Ballpark Company LLC, the owner and operator of Oracle Park in San Francisco.

According to a press release, the case arises from concussion-related injuries Williamson sustained in a game on April 24, 2018, when Williamson, playing left field for the San Francisco Giants, crashed into the bullpen mound while running full speed attempting to catch a foul ball and collided headfirst into the left field line wall.

Since the collision, Williamson says he has struggled with vision problems and other post-concussion symptoms. 

“My life hasn’t been the same since suffering the injury,” Williamson said. “The concussion ended my career and left me with life-long injuries that have also taken a significant toll on my personal life. I’m fortunate to have such an understanding fiancé who has been there every step of the way and helps me get through the days I suffer nausea, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and other issues. I wake up every day hoping that today is a better day and that I will get closer to how I felt before the injury.”

CBBC declined to comment on the matter, but the San Francisco Giants offered comment to the San Francisco Chronicle, which stated that the “MLB and its clubs have a longstanding practice of addressing claims arising from player injuries through the collectively-bargained grievance procedure and the worker’s compensation system. Williamson’s claims are properly resolved through these processes, not through the courts.”

Williamson claims that CBBC knowingly exposed players to an unreasonable and unnecessary risk of harm by placing the bullpens on the field, despite knowing that the bullpen mounds were a dangerous condition. CBBC also failed to move the bullpens off the field of play even though numerous other players had previously run into the mounds. Although MLB recognized the safety hazard of on-field bullpens, Oracle Park was one of only three ballparks to still have them in 2018. After the collision, former CBBC and Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan apologized to Williamson for the injury and admitted that the bullpens were placed on the field against the wishes of then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig over player safety concerns. In the wake of Williamson’s injury, CBBC finally moved the bullpens this year to behind the outfield wall where they belonged. 

“Since the collision, Williamson has fought through the everyday obstacles that accompany the long-term effects of concussions. He also championed the relocation of the bullpens to protect other players,” said Randy Erlewine, Williamson’s lawyer. “His injury should never have happened, and we believe that CBBC’s decision to use on-field bullpens, and its failure later to move them, put his and other players’ careers in jeopardy.”

Williamson was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and made his MLB debut in late 2015 after working his way through the minor leagues as one of the Giants’ top outfield prospects.

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