By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. – Hannibal Cavemen shortstop Mattingly Romanin followed instructions Saturday night. As a result, he got kicked in the face.
Romanin got taken out by a skydiver as part of a pregame ceremony at Clemens Field before Hannibal's game against the Terre Haute Rex.
There were three skydivers as part of the ceremony. Romanin was standing behind second base in shallow center field near second baseman Jake Mangler and third baseman Jerod Smith when a skydiver headed straight for them. Mangler and Smith peeled out of the way at the last second, but Romanin held his ground.
"Before they jumped, they had one of their crew members come out and tell us, 'If they're coming right for you, and it looks like they're going to hit you, don't move. They'll avoid you,'" said Romanin, a junior from Chicago State. "So that's my excuse for not getting out of the way.
"This guy is coming in, and I'm like, 'He's getting pretty close.' Then he spreads his legs like he's just going to try to scare us and fly over us, and all of a sudden, I'm like, 'OK, he's really close.' So I tried to duck to give him a little more room to work with, and then I just realized, 'I'm done.'"
A video of the incident was captured and posted on YouTube, and sports websites operated by Deadspin, Yahoo! Sports, USA Today, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and others have posted stories that include the video.
Mangler said he also received the instructions to stay put even if a skydiver approached them, but he just couldn't make himself do it.
"When he was kind of coming right at us, we were just assuming that he was going to veer off and make sure he didn't hit us," Mangler said. "And then when he got a little closer, a little closer, me and Jerod Smith eventually said, 'Screw it,' and jumped out of the way. And Matty kind of followed directions the whole way and lowered his shoulder and took the blow for all three of us."
Romanin remained on the ground for several minutes after the incident and received medical attention. The skydiver approached Romanin shortly after colliding with him. Romanin said the skydiver apologized but that there seemed to be some confusion as to what Romanin was truly supposed to do.
"The only thing I really remember him saying to me was, 'I thought you were going to move,'" Romanin said. "And then all of a sudden, the person who told us not to move was yelling at him that you guys always tell me to tell them not to move. So that started a nice little argument."
Romanin wound up playing all nine innings of the game, which Hannibal lost 7-3.
Mangler said Romanin handled the incident in stride.
"Mattingly is the kind of kid who will be able to laugh something like that off," Mangler said. "After he kind of came his senses and got up and started moving around, then it was pretty funny for him. It's kind of those things that he said will only happen once in a lifetime, and it happened to him."
Romanin didn't get much time to shake out of the cobwebs, as he turned a double play in the first inning.
"It was just something to laugh about," Romanin said. "All my teammates were laughing once they figured out I was OK and able to play."
By Sunday morning though, it wasn't as much of a laughing matter.
"I was all right for the game, and then I got a pretty good headache this morning," Romanin said.
Romanin said he suffered a concussion during the spring while playing for Chicago State, and although it hadn't been confirmed by medical personnel yet, Romanin said he's "80 percent sure" he has another concussion resulting from Saturday's collision.
"I feel the same (as after the Chicago State concussion), so I'm pretty sure I have another one," Romanin said. "I really hope it's not (an injury that will sideline him) for the rest of the season, because I still want to play. I'm still here to get my at-bats and get better. … I really hope I can just shake it off and come back and make a difference."
Hannibal's Sunday night game against the Quincy Gems was postponed due to rain, but before the game was postponed, Romanin said that he wasn't planning to play Sunday. In 38 games with Hannibal, Romanin is batting .218 with five doubles and nine RBIs.
Other than the possible concussion, the biggest downside of the ordeal was that Romanin's Oakley sunglasses were snapped.
"They didn't make it unfortunately. We're still working out a plan to get a new pair," Romanin said.
Romanin, who is from Burlington, Ontario, said he'd never been a part of a pregame ceremony featuring skydivers.
"It was pretty fun watching them," Romanin said.
Yet, if he's ever a part of another ceremony featuring skydivers, Romanin plans to ignore any instructions he might receive about standing still.
"Even if they tell me not to move, I'll get out of the way," he said.