Scranton man struck by falling pipe from Wrigley scoreboard
By JARED STRONG
The Chicago Cubs had played five innings and were down three runs when Kyle McAleer donned his plastic rally hat to root for a comeback last week.
It’s tradition for McAleer, 20, of Scranton, and his family to attend a Cubs game each year.
It’s tradition for McAleer and his dad Scott to wear the Dubble Bubble tubs when the games take a wrong turn, a tribute to former Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who wore them in 2015.
It was a great night — clear skies and about 80 degrees — for a baseball game on July 24 as McAleer sat with his father, mother, sister, uncle and a childhood friend of his father. The two grew up together in Chicago.
It was McAleer’s first time sitting in the outfield bleachers at Wrigley Field, something he had long yearned to do. Some bleacher fans heckle the outfielders of opposing teams. That night the Cubs played the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“Everyone fears the bleacher bums,” said McAleer, a 2016 graduate of Greene County High School.
The Cubs were on the field, warming up for the top of the sixth inning, and McAleer was watching two outfielders toss a ball back and forth.
That’s when a metal pipe fell from Wrigley’s iconic scoreboard.
It’s one of two Major League Baseball scoreboards in the country that are still operated by hand. The other is in Boston.
The pipe — about 6 inches long, 4 pounds heavy and painted green — fell dozens of feet and dropped on McAleer’s head.
It made the sound of a massive drum.
The impact pushed the bucket down over his face and knocked his glasses to the ground. McAleer leaned forward and slid the cracked bucket off and blood gushed from a large cut on the top of his head.
“I’ve never seen that much blood before,” he recalled. “It looked like a horror film.”
His mother Julie yelled for other fans to give napkins or anything else that might stop the bleeding. One had a Cubs towel that McAleer held to his head before a paramedic arrived with gauze.
He was taken by ambulance with his father to a nearby hospital where a doctor closed the wound with five staples. The rest of the group stayed to watch the game.
The Cubs lost 5-1.
The family returned home to Scranton, where they’ve lived for about six years. McAleer grew up in California, but his family moved to Iowa to be close to his grandparents. He’s training to be a commercial pilot.
McAleer went back to work at Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Carroll. On his first shift after his encounter with the green pipe, he got a text message from his dad.
Their home telephone was ringing and ringing and ringing. Chicago news organizations wanted to tell his story.
He’s now known among Cubs fans as “Bucket Man” or “Bucket Guy.”
Without that bucket, McAleer said, he would have been severely injured. Killed maybe.
It’s a good thing his Cubs were losing, he said, otherwise he wouldn’t have had his rally hat on.
Cubs officials gave him a new jersey, a Javier Baez bobblehead and a game ball signed by Baez, and they promised him a VIP experience at the stadium some day.
A Cubs spokesman did not return a telephone call to comment for this article.
McAleer hopes he can convince them to let him throw the first pitch.