ST. PETERSBURG -- Longtime college basketball analyst and Rays fan Dick Vitale got an unwelcome surprise at Thursday night's game.
Vitale was sitting in his usual front-row seat by the third-base dugout when a foul ball by Blue Jays leadoff hitter Fred Lewis struck him near the stomach area during the first inning. The ESPN personality appeared to be fine, as he stayed in his seat and spoke with fellow fans throughout the game.
"First pitch got me right in the rib area," Vitale told FOX Sports' Todd Kalas in a TV interview during the game. "[It was the] first time I've ever had a line drive in 11 years come into this box since I've been here. And I'm going to tell you, man, it came like a bullet, and I was really worried. But fortunately, I feel fine."
A few members of the Tropicana Field staff came to his side after he was hit, and he rubbed his side on occasion, but the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer didn't let that keep him from taking in the rest of the game.
"Seems everything's all right," Vitale said. "I'm going to be on the tennis court tomorrow, so I hope to be back out there. I'm going to tell you, it really is scary. We were talking last night at a party I was at about the fact that we've been lucky sitting here that nothing's ever happened."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the game that he saw the play, and he went out of his way to present the idea of giving a useful gift to the dedicated Tampa Bay fan.
"We offered to send over a glove," the skipper said. "I told the guys to get on the horn, and the guy next to Dicky V, I asked him, 'Do you need a glove? We'll send a glove on over there.' That was obviously a little bit too late."
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.