Kansas City, Mo. A longtime Kansas City Royals fan who is suing the team and its mascot says getting hit in the eye with a hot dog flung by a large furry lion is no laughing matter.
Especially after three surgeries to fix a detached retina, an attorney for Overland Park, Kan., resident John Coomer, said this week at the start of a trial in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Coomer is suing the team for more than $25,000 for injuries he said he suffered at the night game on Sept. 8, 2009, when Kansas City mascot Sluggerrr whipped a foil-wrapped wiener behind his back and struck Coomer in the left eye.
The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that Coomer's attorney Bob Tormohlen called Byron Shores to the stand Tuesday to discuss the finer points of chucking hot dogs.
Shores donned the padded Sluggerrr suit from February 1996 to October 2009, when the Royals fired him for reasons the team said were not related to the hot dog incident.
While the lawsuit seeks damages from the team for failing to adequately train its mascot on the proper method of throwing hot dogs, Shores testified that he spent two years traveling across the country teaching mascot classes that included safety training.
Shores said he didn't recall throwing the hot dog that hit Coomer, a veteran Royals fan who says he has attended 175 games. Shores said he didn't know of the accusation against him until just before he was fired.
He said he was never told why the Royals dumped him.
Shores, who also wore the Truman the Tiger costume at the University of Missouri and once was named Big 8 Mascot of the Year, said he always tries to toss hot dogs safely. At Kauffman Stadium, he fired some franks into the stands using an air cannon, and he tossed others by hand.
Scott Hofer, a lawyer representing the Royals, showed Shores a video of a toss he made during a 2009 game and asked him to discuss the wiener's "arc" and "velocity" as it sailed away.
"I would try and put more mustard on it," Shores said. "I guess that's appropriate for a hot dog."
Lawyers entered a hot dog into evidence Tuesday and expect the trial to last into Thursday.