PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — It's called slow pitch softball, but a line drive hit back at a pitcher can move dangerously fast.
“In some cases you don’t even have time to react,” said Shane Voutsinas.
On Dec. 2, Greg Fusco got hit in the temple while playing in a tournament in St. Augustine.
Friends say the 37-year-old, who just got married last month, suffered a skull fracture and a blood clot.
He held on for several days but died Sunday.
“This rocked our entire community here,” said Voutsinas
“It’s a big loss and it’s been really tough for me especially to swallow,” said friend James Hinkel.
This tragedy is leading to some major changes in the game. The International Slow Pitch Softball organization added rule 3.5. It’s also known as the the Greg Fusco rule.
It requires all pitchers to wear masks otherwise they have to sign a waiver.
Voutsinas says he bought a mask the day after Greg got hurt.
“I’ve been hit. I’ve seen people hit hard. We just never thought this would ever come about,” he said.
Tampa Bay Softball says it’s taking the rules a step further: no waivers allowed; wear a mask, a helmet, or pitch behind a net, otherwise you won’t play.
“We want to make sure everyone goes home safe. It’s terrible that it took something like this, but we want to make sure everyone’s safe,” said Brett Mclees.
Greg’s teammates are getting support from softball leagues around the country.
It’s making them all take a hard look at safety on the field.
Back home, the games will go on, but losing such a valued friend won’t be easy to get over.
“He’s been playing so long. He’s amazing. He’s amazing as a person,” said Voutsinas.
There is a charity softball game this Saturday at Woodlawn Park in St. Petersburg to benefit Greg Fusco’s family.
For more information call 727-657-9284 or 727-412-2205.
There is also a GoFundMe page set up here.