KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Orioles first baseman Randy Milligan was hospitalized last night after he was knocked unconscious in collision with teammate Bill Ripken in the fifth inning of a game with the Kansas City Royals at Royals Stadium.
Milligan suffered a concussion, a bruised cheekbone and a stretched nerve in his right shoulder, but doctors said he could be playing again within two weeks. He remained at the hospital overnight for observation. Ripken was released from the hospital with a badly bruised shoulder and should probably be back in action in a matter of days.
Milligan and Ripken were taken by ambulance to nearby St. Luke's Hospital after both were injured when they converged on a ground ball hit by Royals second baseman Keith Miller between first and second base.
Most of the concern focused on Milligan, who remained motionless on the field for several minutes after losing consciousness. He was taken off the field with his neck in a
brace, but tests later showed that he had no neurological damage or fracture.
"Thank goodness, it doesn't look too bad," manager Johnny Oates said. "Billy has a left shoulder that looks like it's just bruised and Randy has been cleared of any neurological damage."
It looked much worse than that. Milligan's head slammed into Ripken's shoulder and both crumpled to the turf.
"All I could think about was [Mike] Utley," said Oates, referring to the Detroit Lions player who was paralyzed in a game last winter. "I was just hoping and praying that everything would be OK."
Trainer Richie Bancells said he could get no response for "eight to 10 seconds" after he reached Milligan's side. He quickly called for a stretcher and put Milligan's neck in a brace.
Milligan laid motionless on the field for almost 20 minutes before being removed by paramedics. Milligan complained of numbness and a burning sensation in his neck, but Bancells ascertained that he had regained sensation in his arms and legs.
"I was concerned because he had lost consciousness," Bancells said. "I was concerned when he said he was numb all over. I wanted to make sure that he could move all his limbs."
None of the injuries he sustained is considered serious, but the cumulative effect of all of them could force him onto the disabled list. Ripken figures to miss several days, but Oates said he could be back in the lineup when the club arrives in New York to face the Yankees this weekend.
"Billy was feeling much better a half-hour after it happened," Oates said. "It looks like he's only going to be out a couple of days."
Tom Folk, the director of stadium operations at Royals Stadium, said that an ambulance is stationed at the stadium at all times during agame.
"It stays there," Folk said. "A second ambulance is called [in the event of an injury to a player] and transports the player unless its a life-threatening situation."
But Bill Gulick, a field supervisor for MAST, the company that runs the Kansas City ambulance program, said that there was such a long wait for the second ambulance that Milligan was put in the ambulance stationed at the stadium.
"The players were taken to the hospital before the second ambulance arrived and the second ambulance then stayed for the backup," Gulick said.
"The city called for a change in procedure," Gulick said.
A lengthy delay awaiting the arrival of an ambulance at the ballpark "would never happen here in Baltimore," city fire department Deputy Chief William L. Hunt said last night.
Chief Hunt said one ambulance and its two crew members are assigned on standby duty at every Oriole Park game -- and two ambulances are there when attendance exceeds 40,000.
If a unit on duty must take anyone to a hospital, a backup ambulance would be dispatched to the Camden Yards stadium to take its place, Chief Hunt said.
He said that if any question arose on the severity of an injury and how best to move a patient, Baltimore paramedics would be able obtain information by direct radio contact with hospital personnel through the Maryland emergency medical system.