Back on April 14, 2014 I won a contest that the Clearwater Threshers held. During that week, they hid a Threshers garden gnome somewhere in Clearwater. It would be located at one of their sponsors’ locations and whomever figured out where it was based on a picture of the gnome at the location (close up so you had to know the location), a cryptic clue and took a picture of themselves with the gnome, won the contest. I figured out that they had hidden the gnome in the lobby of the Holiday Inn just up the street from then Brighthouse Field.
The prize that I won was 2 tickets to a meet-and-greet with the Friday concert performer, Jamie Lynn Spears.
Here’s the baseball “twist”…Jamie Lynn Spears, who starred in Zoey101 on Nickelodeon, is the kid sister of Britney Spears who dated Justin Timberlake-who is the nephew of Threshers’ general manager John Timberlake. Whew!
During the game, we were taken downstairs in the stadium to the dining room and were introduced to Jamie Lynn.
After meeting her, she signed an autograph for me.
She was very sweet. She made an impression on me because she was so kind and personable. She was launching her country music career and I stayed after the game to listen. I enjoyed the music.
Earlier this week, her 8 year old daughter Maddie was in an ATV accident and was trapped underwater in the ATV. They life flighted her to a hospital where she was unconscious. I said prayers for her. I was overjoyed by the news today that Maddie was awake and talking with no apparent permanent damage.
Sometimes baseball can introduce you to someone you wouldn’t have otherwise met. Here’s to hoping that little Maddie keeps improving and goes home soon.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m an advocate for additional netting at baseball stadiums. I advocated this even before the little girl was severely injured by Freddie Galvis this season at Citizens Bank Park. You can read my earlier post HERE.
What you didn’t see was a fan who was knocked UNCONSCIOUS during Game 7 of the World Series! It wasn’t covered on TV! Why? Because MLB doesn’t want to admit it can be life altering to attend a game.
The New York Times ran an article outlining not only the injurysustained during Game 7 but also how an elderly woman was hit in the cheek fracturing the bone and destroying her eye. The woman is now permanently disabled and unable to leave her home due to her impaired and limited vision. You can read the NYT article HERE.
How many people have to get injured, disfigured or even DIE, yes people have been killed at baseball games, before fans are protected? Is getting a free baseball so great that it outweighs the danger?
In 1970, a Manny Mota foul hit young Alan Fish at Dodgers Stadium…three days later Alan Fish was dead. Manny Mota has to live the rest of this life knowing he killed a kid. Still, MLB does nothing.
When a young girl was killed at an NHL game, the NHL acted swiftly and within a few months ALL arenas were required to have protective netting.
Baseball argues that fans are warned of possible injury from objects leaving the playing surface…but are fans who sit over the dugout warned that they are sitting in the “Danger Zone”? Does it say on your ticket that you could be at risk of serious injury? Do they make sure that fans are nimble enough to move out of the way of a 100mph line drive foul?
People come to games and think they are safe, and most are, but I can guarantee you that those who have been injured or have seen some of these injuries will be sitting behind the net-if they can afford it as the only “safe” seats are behind home.
May be the answer is movable netting, similar to the netting used to proctect fans in the end zone from extra points at football games. With those, you still have the intimacy but without the danger.
Even as a photographer, I’d rather sit behind netting. With a decent camera, you can compensate for the netting. Even still, I want to be safe. I was hit by a puck at an AHL game I understand how painful and life threatening being hit by a projectile can be. Trust me, I am lucky to be alive.
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:
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.