An accident with a racing drone caused an MLB pitcher to miss a playoff start

Everyone has their hobbies. And Trevor Bauer, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, likes to build racing drones. And anyone that has ever built racing drones know they need a lot of maintenance – manually installing and swapping out propellers, batteries etc.

But Bauer had a slight mishap while repairing one of his drones last Thursday – less than 48 hours before he was supposed to start in an ALCS game.

When he connected the battery pack to the drone one of the propellers started spinning at full throttle, and his pinkie finger on his pitching hand was in the way. Typically when you connect a drone to the battery pack the propellers aren’t supposed to start until you “arm it” from the controller.

The spinning propeller cut Bauer’s pinky, and needed 10 stitches. Obviously he wasn’t able to pitch that weekend, and the team had to switch him in the rotation with another pitcher.

In a press conference yesterday Bauer showed off his pinky and the drone. He also gave some background on his hobby – a few years ago he saw a video of racing drones with LEDs mounted to them, and wanted to start building and flying them himself. Bauer calls himself a “big nerd”, and spent some of the press conference talking about his favorite Star Wars movie (Phantom Menace).

Seriously though, the mishap is really a reminder of not only how dangerous drones can be, but how much more careful you need to be around DIY racing drones than drones manufactured by big companies like DJI and GoPro. Because you literally build and program each part from scratch in a racing drones (including sometimes the actual flight controller software) there’s always a greater chance of something going wrong.

Bauer is anticipating to start in tonight’s game against the Blue Jays. While he isn’t allowed to wear any bandage or cover while he plays, he made sure to tell the crowd that he doesn’t even use his pinky when he pitches, “it just kind of hangs there“.