A natural-gas explosion ripped through Compadre Stadium at the Milwaukee Brewers' new training camp today, injuring 10 persons, including the team's general manager, Harry Dalton, and its manager, George Bamberger.
Burned severely were third-base coach Tony Muser, 38, and Jeff Sutton, 22, a plumber who was working on a natural-gas heating system.
Injured less seriously were pitcher Bill Wegman, 23; catcher Bill Schroeder, 27; and coaches Larry Haney, 43; Herm Starrette, 47; and Andy Etchebarren, 42. A 10th person, believed to be a construction worker, was treated for smoke inhalation.
The explosion happened at 8:55 a.m. in the coaches' dressing room, more than an hour before the Brewers were scheduled to begin working out. About 35 players and team officials were there when part of the roof blew off the stadium.
"It was the damnedest explosion I've ever seen," said Bamberger, 60, whose office adjoins the coaches' office. "A bolt of fire came right through the door and, the next thing I knew, I'm on the floor. The concussion knocked me down. We were very fortunate somebody wasn't killed."
He said he saw Haney on fire, lying on the floor near him. "At first I wondered why he was wearing a sweat shirt," Bamberger said, "and then I realized it was his skin on fire."
While Bamberger tried to help Haney, Dalton, 57, who also was in Bamberger's office, saw Muser and Sutton on the floor asking for help.
"I was not thinking about the [coaches'] room; I was just thinking about what was in front of me," Dalton said.
Team trainer Al Price, one of the first to get to the clubhouse after the blast, said players remained calm and those not injured quickly began helping those who were.
"People were kind of in shock, but they handled it well," he said.
Muser and Sutton were taken by helicopter to the Maricopa County Burn Center in Phoenix Hospital. Muser was in serious but stable condition with second- and third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body, primarily from the waist up. Sutton was in fair condition with second- and third-degree burns of his face and hands.
Starrette, who was in the coaches' room when the explosion occurred, was taken to Chandler Community Hospital, where he was in serious but stable condition with second-degree burns on his arms and first- and second-degree burns on his face. He was placed in the intensive care unit because of previous heart problems.
Haney was in good condition at Chandler Hospital with first- and second- degree burns of his face and hands.
Everyone else was treated for minor burns to their hands and arms and were released.
Dalton said training would continue Friday, when the full squad is to report. The visitors' clubhouse will be used.