Sluggerrr took the stand again Tuesday.
At one point Byron Shores, who portrayed the Kansas City Royals’ mascot for 14 years, held up a foil-wrapped hot dog and identified it as similar to the dog he threw during a 2009 Royals game as part of a between-innings promotion.
That dog, according to baseball fan and plaintiff John Coomer, hit him in in the left eye, resulting in a detached retina, a later cataract procedure and a likely lifetime of monitoring possible glaucoma.
“It was never my intention to drill somebody,” Shores said of his toss, which was part of the Royals’ Hot Dog Launch.
It wasn’t Shores’ first time testifying.
Coomer filed a negligence suit against the Royals in 2010, but the next year a Jackson County jury found him to be at fault. In 2013, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed that verdict. The Royals then appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which a year ago sided with Coomer.
The court ruled that the trial judge made an error by instructing jurors to decide whether the risk of injury from the hot dog toss was “an inherent risk” of watching a Royals game. That was a question that the judge should have decided, according to the court.
The jury instead should have been asked to decide whether Shores — portraying Sluggerrr — injured Coomer by hitting him with a hot dog and whether that constituted negligence. The court sent the case back to Jackson County.
Coomer on Tuesday described the moment the dog hit.
“I grabbed my face and bent over. I was stunned,” he said.
Two mornings later, his vision had changed.
“I looked around at my dashboard and windshield and the sensation was of looking through a screen door,” he said.
Coomer said he and his father were looking at the stadium scoreboard and weren’t expecting the hot dog to come their way.
On Tuesday, Shores demonstrated for the jury his various tosses: the overhand, the underhand, the “grenade” throw.
“I would throw hot dogs behind my back, but not with any velocity,” Shores said.
“It is reasonable for people to expect you not to drill them?” asked lawyer Bob Tormohlen, representing Coomer.
“That’s reasonable, yes, sir,” Shores said.
Scott Hofer, representing the Royals, asked whether nearly all major league baseball teams employed a mascot.
“I don’t think the Yankees do,” said Shores, drawing a brief chuckle from the jury.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.