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Coach Richard Becher was struck by line drive in his temple, family says

Photo of Richard Becher provided by his family.

Photo of Richard Becher provided by his family. Credit: Family photo

Richard Becher, the 50-year-old Holbrook coach who died on Saturday while pitching batting practice to his 12-year-old son's travel team, was struck by a baseball in his temple, his brother-in-law said Monday.

The temple is one of the body's most vulnerable areas.

Becher was throwing behind a protective "L-screen" used to shield pitchers about 5:30 p.m. when the baseball struck him, said John Bree of Holbrook.

"He got hit, did a little wobble and went down to the ground," he said. Becher was transported to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where he was pronounced dead.

Professor Lloyd Smith, director of Washington State University's Sports Science Laboratory, said Becher likely reacted to the batted ball by turning, exposing the side of his head.

"If you're hit in the temple, that's the most delicate part," he said. Four bones and a major artery merge near the temple to form a zone where a sharp blow could have dire consequences.

Alan Nathan, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an expert on baseball physics, said that sports safety experts sometimes debate whether 12-year-old pitchers can react quickly enough to avoid line drives, but having an adult struck is "a very unusual case."

Becher owned a Holbrook sheet-metal installation company, Bech Air Corp. Survivors include his wife, Susan, a son, Nicholas, a 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, his mother, Kathryn, and brothers Michael, James, David and Patrick.

His family is creating a sports safety foundation, Bree said Monday. It's still not determined what issues the sports safety foundation will focus on.

Becher's family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to The Richard Becher Memorial Foundation for Safety in Sports, P.O. Box 383, Holbrook, New York, 11741.

"Hopefully some good can come of this," Bree said. Richard "would have wanted that -- to help other people."

The visiting schedule is Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Moloney's Holbrook Funeral Home, 825 Main St., Holbrook.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the same location, followed by interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

An earlier version of this article included an incorrect zipcode for the memorial foundation.


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