Kolten Wong is counting his blessings - and probably sending a note of thanks to his equipment company.
The St. Louis Cardinals second baseman may have seen his life flash before his eyes during the seventh inning of Saturday's game, when Cincinnati Reds right-hander Luis Castillo hit Wong in the face with a 97-mph fastball. Wong collapsed to the ground and his helmet went flying off his head.
Fortunately for all involved, though, Wong walked down to first base and remained in the game without injury because the ball hit the helmet's face shield - exactly the kind of protection the shield is supposed to provide the hitter.
"If I don't have that (extra shield), I'm spitting out teeth," Wong told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com after the game.
Wong's not the first star to openly sing its praises this year. In April, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton said the flap "saved my life" after it slowed down a pitch that ricocheted off the shield and into his face; the flap ultimately slowed down the pitch, and caused minimal damage.
The "C-Flap," as it's known, has become a more common sight in the batter's box this season. It's worn by several stars around the game, including Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and the Cubs' Jason Heyward and Javier Baez.
Although the C-Flap club recently lost a member in Josh Donaldson, who ditched it after feeling it was blocking his vision during some plate appearances, Seattle's Mitch Haniger - who was hit in the face by a pitch on July 29 - will apparently begin wearing one once he comes off the disabled list later this year.