Dad's Quick Thinking Saves Little Boy's Face at Baseball Game

PHOTO: A fan knocks down a bat thrown into the stands by the Pirates Danny Ortiz during a spring training game against the Braves on March 5, 2016, at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.PlayChristopher Horner/Tribune-Review
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One father’s quick action likely saved his 8-year-old son from being seriously injured at a baseball game over the weekend.

The near-miss happened Saturday when the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Atlanta Braves in a spring training game and a Pirates' player lost his grip on a bat that headed toward the stands.

Dad Shaun Cunningham told ABC News that he was watching the Pirates play the Braves as part of an early birthday present for his son, Landon.

When Landon was looking down at a cellphone to send his mother a text, Cunningham said he saw the bat slip out of the player’s hands.

“[It] was headed towards us and I didn’t have a lot of time to react and I just did whatever I could to try to block it or deflect the bat and really had no idea how close it came to my son’s face until I saw the picture Sunday night,” he said.

“I’m very thankful … and no one was seriously injured,” he said.

Christopher Horner, a photographer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, caught the moment on camera when Cunningham stretched out his arm to protect his son's face.

PHOTO: A fan knocks down a bat thrown into the stands by the Pirates Danny Ortiz during a spring training game against the Braves on March 5, 2016, at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review
A fan knocks down a bat thrown into the stands by the Pirates' Danny Ortiz during a spring training game against the Braves on March 5, 2016, at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Whether it was luck or good timing, Cunningham’s forearm appears to have been the only body part hit directly by the bat.

Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz told the Tribune that he had no idea about what happened until after the game.

"I went home and my wife said to me, ‘You almost killed that kid!'" Ortiz told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I saw the picture. It was crazy. ... That guy took [a blow] for the kid. The father, or whoever he was, he protected that kid," Ortiz said.

A photo Horner posted on Twitter of the moment directly after the incident shows that Landon looked more surprised than anything else.

Landon said he will continue to go to baseball games, as long as he sits next to his dad.

“My dad is a hero,” the boy said.