The Braves’ Rafael Furcal strides to the batter’s box at Turner Field on Oct. 7, 2004. It’s game two of the best-of-five 2004 National League Division Series (NLDS), the Houston Astros have already won game one, and the score is tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning. The pressure is intense, but Furcal calmly smacks a two-run homer to win the game. He’s engulfed at home plate by teammates and showered with cheers by fans — the hero of the moment. Lawyer William Head sees the sweet swing and smiles. Without him, none of this would have happened.
Furcal was arrested on Sept. 10 for driving under the influence, his second DUI in four years. Since he had violated his probation he was facing an immediate 21-day jail sentence; his prospects for playing in the postseason looked bleak. That’s when Head stepped in.
“We were scheduled for an October 8 hearing, but that was in the middle of the playoffs—Rafael was due to be in Houston that day,” explains Head, of Head, Thomas, Webb & Willis. “I was able to push the hearing up to October 6, the morning of game one.
“We got the judge to put off Rafael’s detention until 5 p.m. on the day after the season ended,” Head says. “We were able to put that deal together because we didn’t ask the judge to cut him a special deal.”
The public didn’t react well to this turn of events; some even booed Furcal. “People thought he was getting special treatment, but the judge didn’t give him any break,” Head insists. “When this happens, plumbers get to finish plumbing jobs and students get to finish semesters.
“The judge actually gave him more restrictive conditions,” he says. “Raffy was required to leave celebrations and be on monitoring systems. They even wanted to send a deputy to travel with the team.”
Furcal, naturally, was upset about his situation. “I told him, ‘If you want to do anything to turn this around, just play well,’” Head says. Furcal took Head’s advice to heart and turned in a superb performance in the NLDS — he hit .381 for the series — though in the end the Braves couldn’t overcome the Astros.
“I was very proud of him,” says Head. “He’s a good guy. He just made a mistake and he paid for it.”