Pitcher dunks on 3-year-old son, ends up with black eye

June 15th, 2023

OAKLAND -- returned from the 15-day injured list Thursday afternoon with a healthy hip and a black eye.

Fairbanks had been sidelined since May 28 due to inflammation in his left hip, but he said he hopes it will be a “non-issue” after an injection, treatment and strengthening work, and he looked strong on the mound in his return, recording the save in the Rays' 50th win of the season. But about that black eye? That’s a different story entirely.

Fairbanks was at home playing basketball in the pool with his 3-year-old son, Isak. The 6-foot-6 reliever went up to dunk on his son, and … well …

“I pulled the pool basketball hoop down onto my face after dunking on a 3-year-old to kind of teach him an early lesson in life that, when you're in the paint, you cannot be caught unawares underneath the rim,” Fairbanks said on Wednesday, still sporting a purple-and-red bruise underneath his right eye from where the top of the backboard hit his face. “Did that end up with me with a black eye? Yes.”

The 29-year-old right-hander said he has heard plenty about his basketball injury from his wife, Lydia, and many of his Tampa Bay teammates.

“It was fun,” Fairbanks said. “My wife has been making fun of me about it, as has pretty much everybody here.”

So, did it turn out that Fairbanks was actually the one taught a lesson instead of his son? Not in his view.

“Oh, no, no. The ball went through the hoop,” Fairbanks said. “So as far as I'm concerned, that's two points.”