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Bel Air Girl Severely Injured at Orioles Game: 'Most Helpless Feeling You Will Ever Have'

A 10-year-old girl from Bel Air was seriously injured after she was hit in the face with a ball during batting practice at an Orioles game.

Jennifer Dempsey, 10, is recovering after being hit in the face with a baseball at Camden Yards. (Courtesy Photo: Joseph Kraft)
Jennifer Dempsey, 10, is recovering after being hit in the face with a baseball at Camden Yards. (Courtesy Photo: Joseph Kraft)

When Joseph Kraft took his 10-year-old daughter to the Orioles game Friday night at Camden Yards, he expected a fun night out with his family, like he has had hundreds of times before.

Instead, he watched a nightmare unfold in front of his eyes, after his daughter was hit in the face with a baseball during batting practice.

Four days later, Jennifer Dempsey has undergone a grueling nine-hour surgery to repair a fractured skull, broken cheekbones, and crushed septum, among other injuries.

“To not be able to react fast enough, and seeing your child like that, is something I would not wish on anybody,” Kraft, a Bel Air resident said. “It is the most helpless feeling you will ever have. “

Jennifer is currently recovering at Johns Hopkins Pediatric Center. Kraft said she is awake and alert, but has an extremely long road to recovery ahead of her, and will most likely need medical care for the rest of her life.

While Kraft and his wife help their daughter recover, he wants parents to know just how quickly a night at the ballpark can go wrong.

When Jennifer was hit, while standing in the flag court before the park opened, Kraft said there were four adults standing right by, and all they could do was take one step—and then it was over.

“If one injury can be prevented from this whole incident, and one person can avoid what we just went though these past couple days it's worthwhile to tell people,” Kraft said. “No one realizes at 390 feet away how fast that ball is moving and how much damage it can do.” 

During surgery, Kraft said Jennifer had 15 titanium plates inserted into her face.  She can’t wear a hat, a helmet or ride a bike for the rest of her life, because she can’t do anything to cause the plates to shift.

Kraft said she will miss at least a month of school at Fountain Green Elementary, and will need to see someone from the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Kennedy Kreiger once they leave the hospital. 

“It’s the furthest thing from your mind when you’re out for a good day at the park—that it could turn into a lifetime of needing medical care,” Kraft said.

When Jennifer was hit, Kraft said they were two minutes away from the park opening. An Oakland Athletics player was taking batting practice at the time. Kraft said his family has heard from both the Orioles and the A's since the incident.

"We have been in touch with the family. And we wish Jennifer the best and a very quick recovery," said Monica Barlow, director of public relations for the Orioles.

Kraft said he and his family are lifelong Orioles fans. They have collections in their home dating back to 1914. They have been to the ballpark “hundreds of times.” But they never saw this coming. 

“It’s been a very, very eye opening experience,” Kraft said. “Every one of us that were there is feeling the guilt of we didn’t do enough. It’s definitely something you don’t want to see your child go through."

Ellen Edrington September 07, 2013 at 09:47 AM
Rascal Cat, Mr. Kraft took the high road in responding to your insulting message. You should be ashamed of your comment about the accident. Accidents like these happen so quickly and believe me, when a ball is hurling through the air at 100 miles an hour you barely have time to react. As I said in an earlier post, I have been through a similar ordeal and there is little you can do to avoid a tragedy like this. Instead of trying to blame the father for something that was not his fault and post hurtful, insulting comments, why don't you use your energy to say a prayer for this little girl and her family. It would be a much better and kinder use of your time.
Sarah September 09, 2013 at 08:35 PM
FYI- My understanding is that she is getting better every day and we look forward to seeing her soon.
ROBERT SCHROEDER September 09, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Thank you Jesus!
Rascal Cat September 12, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Being on the Flag Court is clearly not the same as sitting near the dugout for example. There is plenty of time to react and the ball is not travelling at 100 miles per hour when the ball has traveled 400 feet. A horrible thing happened but if Dad was paying attention he would have had plenty of time to react. Attack me all you want but again I will ask the question. What was Dad doing? I know when I am there with my child at that part of Eutaw Street I read the warning signs and I am very aware balls come flying out there.
Dr. Dave January 24, 2014 at 08:14 AM
Rascal Cal, then you're just the perfect father, aren't you? I hope something like this never happens when your daughter is in the same spot as Jennifer was, because you couldn't react any faster than her father did, no matter what you think now. You're just second-guessing a situation that happened while you weren't there. You can't know how fast you would have reacted because you didn't see the situation. You're just being obnoxious and rude to Jennifer's father by suggesting you know what he should have been able to do. Maybe he should have just never taken her to the ballgame - that would have protected her. Or maybe he should have just surrounded her the entire time they were within 450 feet of home plate during batting practice. Or made her wear a full face helmet. But just walking or standing around the area, there's no way to react to a ball that quickly unless you're focused solely on batting practice and the flight of every ball rather than Boog's BBQ or getting a hot dog or looking at souvenirs. So don't pretend like you're a superhero and Jennifer's father is some kind of failure for not protecting his child. He said every adult around her took a step when they saw what was coming, but they were all too late to do anything about it. He feels bad enough that his daughter got hurt and he couldn't protect her. He doesn't need someone like you talking smack about how you could have done so much better, especially when you couldn't have.

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