This is a subject that is a personal one for me and I’ll explain why later.
Last night, Freddie Galvis hit a fly ball that zoomed into the stands and hit a young girl in the face. She was injured and taken to Children’s Hospital. We had, ironically, just turned on the game when they were showing her being carried out of the stands. The accident obviously left Freddie shaken. He was quoted by Matt Breen’s article (Read the entire article HERE) as saying:
“What if I broke all her teeth. What if I broke her nose. If I hit her in one eye and she loses that. What are they going to do? They’re going to forget in three days,” Galvis said. “It’s going to be a big deal for two, three days. Everybody in TV, media, whatever. But after three days what’s going to happen? They’re going to forget. But that family won’t forget that. Do you think the little baby will forget that? It’s true life. It’s something you have to put before everything. Safety first. Safety.”
He’s right on so many levels. As I stated earlier, I have personal experience in this area. In 1997, I was at a Hershey Bears hockey game and was hit by a puck. It just wasn’t a gentle flip over the boards, it was a line drive. You ask if I was paying attention, I was. Much like a line drive this puck had been a wrap around shot, as it flew along the glass, it picked up speed as if it was the end skater in a line of skaters playing “crack the whip”.
I heard it coming. I had worked for the Bears for two years previously, (so I KNOW what a puck like that sounds like) and was on a date with Ross at the time. As I turned to see which way to move to get out of the way, I saw it leave where the glass went from high to low and whip into the crowd. It was so fast I had no chance to move and it hit me right between the eyes. I remember every thing distinctly-the split second I had to realize the puck was coming for me and the other infinitesimal amount of time to realize there was no way to move fast enough to get out of the way. I remember “pop” as my skull fractured. For just a fraction of a second, I worried that Ross had also been hit and as I turned to look at him, my vision was gone. I didn’t lose my sight, there was that much blood gushing down my face that I couldn’t see. I didn’t see anything until a few minutes later when the EMTs were holding gauze on the gaping wound and wiped the blood from my eyes.
It cost (in 1997) $500 to go the four miles to the Hershey Medical Center by ambulance. At the hospital they determined my injuries to be:
- skull fracture
- the front bone of my forehead had been pushed 1mm into my sinus cavity
- the cut-required 15 stitches (5 interior, 10 exterior) for most of which I didn’t have any anesthetic.
The doctor explained that had it hit me almost anywhere else along my eye, I would have likely lost vision and had it hit the temple, well let’s just say there’d be no Baseball Betsy after that. Luckily I recovered, but I do have a rather impressive scar for my permanent souvenir.
5 years later, in the spring of 2002, 13 year old Brittanie Cecil was hit in the head at a Columbus Blue Jackets game and she passed away from her injuries two days later. It was the first fan death at an NHL game. By the next fall, the NHL had acted and required all venues to increase the height of the glass and to have the netting we see today. They didn’t wait. They acted.
But no one has ever died from a foul ball you say? Yes, someone has been killed by a foul ball at a Major League Baseball game! May 16, 1970, at Dodgers Stadium, Manny Mota hit a foul into the stands that hit 14 year old Alan Fish. Fish died four days later in an area hospital of “an inoperable head injury.” MLB did not change a thing.
This year (over 45 years later) they did encourage not require teams to increase the netting and many did, but only THREE of the THIRTY teams have netting that extends over the dugouts. Here in Clearwater, they also extended the netting to the inside end of the dugout approximately an additional 10 feet but here the netting does not go high enough. I’ve been hit/almost hit several times as well has Ross. Our seats are in the 5th row behind home. We do not get direct shots, in our case, if the foul is high enough it will soar over the top cross bar and then hit the suite level and ricochet into the crowd FROM BEHIND. Ross and I are pretty good at dodging them but I have seen many casual fans get hit in the back or back of the head because they are lulled into a false sense of security of sitting “behind the net”.
Fans deserve to be able to to expect safety when they attend an event. They expect professional organizations to look out for them. Instead they are told (as I was at the hockey games) that “patrons are warned of potential injury from objects leaving the playing surface.” They don’t warn of possible death and disfigurement.
Last year, Tonya Carpenter sustained life threatening injuries after a broken bat flew into the stands at Fenway Park in Boston. In the time I’ve been a season ticket holder here in Clearwater, I’ve seen several minor injuries and sadly, one elderly lady who was sitting over the first base dugout LOST AN EYE after being hit by a foul ball. But yet, even after the this years’ “extension” she wouldn’t have been safe.
In 2014, Bloomberg.com carried an article where their analysis is that 1,750 fans are injured EVERY YEAR at MLB games! You can read their article that also chronicles critical injuries to a 7 year old boy at a Cubs game HERE.
I’m hoping that Freddie Galvis can convince at least the Phillies, if not all of MLB, that WE NEED PROTECTION NOW! Not just for fans, but for players. How do you think Manny Mota feels knowing he killed a child? Freddie Galvis is right and MLB has to listen. How many more people have to be injured or die? I’m sure Alan Fish, who would have been 60 this year, would have asked for more netting, but he can’t.