06/07/10 — Patrick Sasser dies after being hit by baseball

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Patrick Sasser dies after being hit by baseball

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 7, 2010 1:46 PM

Longtime Goldsboro physician Dr. Patrick Sasser, 80, died Saturday as a result of head injuries sustained after an accident at a baseball game at the Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday.

His wife, Patricia Sasser, said they were at the field Tuesday night attending their 12-year-old grandson's baseball game, and that on the field behind them was a group of four or five boys and several adults just practicing.

"We were sitting there watching our game and one of them hit a foul ball and it came over the fence and hit my husband in the head. Nobody saw the ball coming," Mrs. Sasser said. "I heard my husband groan, and I turned around, and it was obvious he was in distress."

But until some of the other parents said something, she said they did not know what had happened.

Dr. Sasser was stunned and his speech briefly slurred, Mrs. Sasser said, but he never lost consciousness and was actually up walking around and talking when the rescue squad arrived. She said there was a mark, "like it was skinned" on his head where the ball had hit him -- right at a spot where he'd had surgery for a subdural hematoma 20 years ago, his daughter-in-law Lyndia Sasser, who also was there, said. Dr. Sasser refused to be taken to the hospital.

"He said, 'No, I'm alright and I don't want to go,'" Patricia Sasser said. "He seemed fine."

And when they arrived home, she said he was still up and about and didn't seem to be suffering any ill effects until later when he was in the back of the house. She said she heard a noise and saw that his walking was staggered. It was then the family called emergency personnel again and the same ambulance responded and took him to Wayne Memorial Hospital. There, doctors examined Dr. Sasser and determined that he needed to see a neurosurgeon. He was airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital.

"It was just a massive head injury and they told me there was nothing they could do for him," she said. "I'm still in shock. When you have a foul ball in a game you're watching, you cover your head. He had no chance."

She said baseball, which Dr. Sasser played in high school and for a semi-professional team for a year, was his favorite sport.

"He loved baseball. We went to all our grandson's games. It was his favorite."

Dr. Sasser also loved medicine, and from 1958 until 1990 had a family practice in Goldsboro. He would have been retired 10 years this month, Mrs. Sasser said.

"He was an exception physician," longtime friend and fellow retired physician Dr. Paul Bennett said. "We worked together for 35 years, and I always felt comfortable when he was covering my patients."

But more than that, he said, he was a "pretty good fisherman," and more importantly, a "fine man."

"He was a good person. He was a straight arrow and meant a great deal to this community. You could always depend on him. He was a blessing to this community and did good work," Bennett said. "It was just a horrible, horrible accident."

"He was just the nicest man and the best father-in-law anybody could ask for," Lyndia Sasser said. "It's a terrible loss, and we're going to miss him for a long, long time."

Funeral services will be at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. Wednes-day with inurnment in the columbarium following the service. Visitation also will follow the service in the church common room. He is survived by his wife, two sons, three grandchildren and two sisters.