When Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz lost control of his bat during a spring training game in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, it went spiraling into the crowd, causing Shaun Cunningham to put his arm in harm’s way for his son, Landon. The event was captured by a photographer, and the pictures quickly went viral.
The scene was captured in two still-frame images, one of which shows Shaun casually sticking his whole arm in the bat’s path as his son looks up from his smartphone in surprise. The other photograph, taken a second later, shows the bat deflecting around Landon’s head after hitting his dad’s arm. The pictures’ immense appeal lies in how ordinary the gesture was, demonstrating that a good dad’s protective impulses are automatic.
Nobody was seriously hurt, but the bat hit Shaun’s arm hard enough to leave a deep contusion, according to the Washington Post. If Shaun is anything like most dads, he’s happier to have the bruise on his own arm rather than on his son’s head. While speaking to the media after the images went viral, Shaun explained he was “dad mode” during the incident, so he acted to protect his son without pausing to think about his actions.
Landon, age 9, was texting at the time, discussing the amount of fun he was having at the game. It was his first visit to a professional baseball game, and according to NPR, he later described it as “amazing.” It’s fair to assume that millions of Internet users would say the same thing about his dad.