There's a moment in the Goodspeed Opera House production of "Damn Yankees" that actor Danny Lindgren won't forget.
The same goes for the audience. Not to mention the trombone player.
It happened during the first preview performance of the baseball-themed musical, which opens Wednesday, April 30 at the East Haddam theater. Lindgren, as one of the nine hapless Boston Red Sox team members, is performing "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo," an elaborate production number that involves choreography with real Louisville Sluggers.
But let Lindgren explain what happened…
"It's quite a small stage and most of the time we're just trying not to hit each other," he says. "We were in the middle of the number when we fling our bats through our legs and then whip them around, turn upstage and hold for a pose — and the applause — when I felt the bat slip out of my hands. As I looked up I saw that its trajectory was heading towards the audience.
"Time slowed down at that point but I had one clear thought: Am I the guy whose bat hit a little old lady in the front row or am I the guy who kept it all from being a tragedy. I chose the latter and dove for the bat — and caught it.
"But I also looked down and saw that I was heading into the orchestra pit and so I tucked my legs under me so I would cause the least damage, as I landed between the violin and trombone player. It ended up that I bent the trombone and knocked over someone's music but otherwise walked away unscathed other than a small upper cut from a mike stand. The trombone player was shaky but fine, too."
The whole thing lasted about two seconds. Lindgren emerged from the pit. "I tried to make it as vaudevillian as possible and I got out and took a bow and we finished the number. The audience was definitely on our side by the end of the number.''
The Seattle native, who played Jake last fall in Goodspeed's "The Most Happy Fella," says: "Now I have a really good story to tell."
His mother sent flowers to the trombone player, David Kayser.