This has been something that has always peeved me about baseball. People being injured by flying balls and bats. It’s not a “new” problem. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that this is a cause I’ve championed for ages. I’ll post links to my previous blogs below.
In case you haven’t heard, last night a 4 year old little girl was hit by the a foul ball hit by Albert Almora Jr. it must have been terrible as the players all reacted in horror. As a fan, I know this sound.
I was at a game in Lakewood, New Jersey when an “airmailed” throw from third sailed into the crowdabove the first base dugout and pegged a toddler square in the back. He was standing directly in front of his mother. There was nothing she could have done to protect him. It made this sick, thump as you could hear the air knocked out of the child’s lungs. He did not cry.
That was even scarier, the lack of crying. There was dead silence and for a brief second I thought he had been killed. Then he made this high pitched squealing breath and started to cry. It was terrifying. Luckily, there was a pediatrician sitting in the next section who immediately attended the child.
The player was horrified at the damage he had caused.
It’s been almost 13 years since that game, August 19, 2006 and yes, I remember the date. When is the safety of the patrons going to rate spending a few thousand dollars for poles and net?
It’s not just horrifying to the injured person, their family and the adjacent fans but looking at Almora’s reaction and subsequent sobbing on the shoulder of a security guard when he was told she’d be ok shows how traumatizing it is for the players that bat the ball.
In the NHL, one little girl, Brittani Cecil was killed by a deflected puck in March, by the beginning of the next season, all NHL facilities had protective netting. That’s all it took, one accident. With the myriad of incidents and serious injuries with MLB, why have they not acted?
This article in the Washington Post outlines some of the most egregious injuries and deaths in baseball history. The key part of the article is as follows:
it has come to be known as the “Baseball Rule.” As long as teams offer some protected areas, fans sitting outside that zone do so at their own risk — a warning still printed on the back of every MLB ticket today.
It’s not an idle warning. A review by Bloomberg in 2014 found that 1,750 fans per year are injured by foul balls. Many of the injuries have been harrowing. In 2017, Sports Illustrated’s Gabriel Baumgaertner recounted some recent cases: a woman in Dodger Stadium whose jaw was broken in two places by a flying bat in 2008; a fan at Fenway Park who spent a week in serious condition at a hospital in 2015 after a thrown bat hit his head; a screaming line drive at Wrigley Field that same year that left a fan carted out on a stretcher. Per ESPN, only two fans before Goldbloom had ever died due to head trauma caused by a baseball at an MLB game: a 32-year-old named Clarence Stagemyer, who died in 1943 after being hit by an errant throw to first at Washington’s Griffith Stadium; and Alan Fish, a 14-year-old who died in 1970 after a foul ball at Dodger Stadium hit him in the head.
Linda Goldbloom, Alan Fish and Clarence Stagemyer have all died from batted balls. How many others have been seriously injured by balls and bats?
How many people have to die or be seriously injured before MLB will do something? MLB promotes their in park ballpark apps…further distraction from play on the field-one more thing that could lead to someone getting hurt? Players are bigger and stronger, the technology in the equipment allows them to hit balls harder and faster. MLB is even promoting “EXIT VELOCITY” and “LAUNCH ANGLE”, two more ways to encourage harder hitting.
The Japanese League has added netting from home to foul poles. They take fan safety seriously.
The new netting is very thin and it in no way interferes with the experience. They installed it at Spectrum Field last season so I can speak from experience.
Are people so worried about not being able to get a foul ball that they are willing to risk serious injury? Would you take that chance with your family? As it stands now, MLB thinks it’s a risk you are willing take.