Here we go again, ANOTHER fan injured (this time a small child) by a foul ball.

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.

Photo courtesy of David Phillip/AP

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.

Previous Blogs:

Another Fan Killed by Foul Ball at Dodger Stadium

Another Serious Injury to a Fan-This Time at the World Series

Enough is Enough! More Netting is Needed at Baseball Stadiums! Freddie Galvis is Right!

Fan Injured By Bat Hit Into the Stands

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Another Fan Killed by Foul Ball at Dodger Stadium

I found this article today reporting that the LA County Corner has revealed that Linda Goldbloom died in August as a result of head trauma received from a batted foul ball at an LA Dodgers game. You can read ESPN’s article HERE.

Linda Goldbloom was a long time fan, mother of three and grandmother of seven.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I wrote about another post about ANOTHER fatality at Dodgers stadium, Alan Fish. You can read that article HERE. That came after Freddie Galvis complained after one of his fouls hit a small girl in the face. I also wrote about the fan injured during World Series play in 2016 HERE.

Those are not the only fatalities. There is another, Clarence Stagemyer was killed in 1943 when he was hit in the head by a thrown ball.

Ross and I saw a similar situation in Lakewood back when Carlos Carrasco was with the BlueClaws. In this situation, part of the problem was inattentive parents who allowed their toddler to wander down the row. The toddler was a few seats away in the 2nd row when a ball was over thrown from third to first and it sailed into the stands. It hit the toddler square in the back, right between the shoulder blades.

I will never forget the sick “pop” it made as all the air left the toddler’s body. He didn’t scream. He didn’t make a sound. That’s why it was so scary. Luckily there was a doctor in the next section, who jumped into action. It took a few moments before there was a huge sucking sound and the toddler took a huge gulp of air and then started to cry. I was never so glad to hear a baby cry as I was that night.

As technology advances and players become stronger, foul balls will become faster, harder and more dangerous. Protecting fans has to be priority one.

I was glad that the Phillies raised the net behind home and extended it over the dugouts. It’s a great first step. Before the raising of the net, Ross and I would get hit by foul ball ricochets a few times a year and have several near misses. Last year, just one and it was straight up.

I get that snagging a free foul ball is part of the excitement, who doesn’t like to go home with one? For me, it lost its luster a bit when I saw an elderly woman lose an eye.

The ballparks are trying to cater more to millennials, making Instagram spots and other social media events to drive in the young ones. While this is great, they also need to realize that when people are looking at their phones and socializing, they are not watching the game and keeping an eye out for balls and bats that enter the stands.

Hopefully, MLB will take a look at spectator safety and increase the netting. It took one death for the NHL to act, in just a few months, they added more netting to protect fans. MLB has three deaths and not much has changed.

Enough is Enough! More Netting is Needed at Baseball Stadiums! Freddie Galvis is Right!

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:

  • concussion
  • 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”.

Let me know if I'm going to get one in the back of the head, ok?
Let me know if I’m going to get one in the back of the head, ok?

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.