A hit to the short stop. A throw to first base. It’s happened thousands of times on Vancouver Island since the start of slo-pitch season, but unfortunately, at a tournament this past Saturday in Courtenay, one sequence didn’t end with an “out” or a “safe”.
Chris Godfrey was running to first base when the ball struck him in the back of the head, causing a life-threatening injury.
He was rushed to St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, then airlifted to a hospital in Victoria. He remains on life support.
Community Comes Together
On Monday night, more than 100 friends, family, and slo-pitch community members came out for a candlelight vigil for Godfrey, who is a husband and father.
“Just a mass outpouring, and when a tragedy strikes a ball family it strikes all the ball families.” Scott Parsons, the organizer of the tournament, told CHEK News.
“He’s the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back even if it was the last thing he owned. He’s always there for you,” he added.
Helmets will now be mandatory
Godfrey wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time, which is common in recreational slo-pitch leagues.
“It’s one in a billion thing. Nobody has ever seen anything like that happen before and for the rest of my life, I’ll probably never see anything like that happen again. It’s tragic.” Parsons said.
Unfortunately, it’s tragedies like these that provoke conversations about player safety.
Adrienne Elliott, president of the Comox Valley Slo-Pitch league responded immediately, implementing mandatory helmets for all players. Today will be the first day of that change.
“If a helmet is going to save someone’s life or change the outcome of the tragedy this weekend, so be it. Then wear a helmet, have fun, because it was awfully devastating to people that were here this weekend that could have had a whole other outcome,” Elliott told the Goldstream Gazette.
You Can Show Your Support
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Chris Godfrey’s honor. Over $22,000 has been raised in just three days.
“I don’t think we expected to see as much as we have already. It’s absolutely amazing how much the members of the league, the community, the business have pulled through,” said Elliott.
“(There’s) unbelievable love all the way around. It’s overwhelming the amount of love.”