Just days after a young girl was hit by a foul ball at a Houston Astros game, tragedy struck again in a minor league game.
A young boy was hit in the face by a foul ball during an Indianapolis Indians game on Saturday night and had to be taken to a hospital, according to a report from Fox 59’s Darius Johnson. The team did not offer an update on the fan's status on Sunday.
The Indians’ press release stated that the fan was sitting along the first base line when he was struck by the ball. He was treated by on-site EMTs but had to be taken away to a local hospital on a gurney.
The story is hauntingly similar to the sad story in Houston, even down to the batter, Ryan LaMarre, looking distraught and getting down on a knee after seeing and hearing the injured child. With such terrible events taking place close together, calls for more safety grow ever louder.
The current extended netting is not enough
Baseball fields have always had protective netting behind home plate, but the push to extend netting down the lines is rather new. Fans being able to catch foul balls has long been a tradition of the game, and this would somewhat detract from how connected they are to the field of play.
Even the Indianapolis Indians, a Triple-A affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates, heeded some fans’ calls and extended their netting to the far edges of each dugout in 2017, according to the Indianapolis Star’s Emma Kate Fittes. However, that was clearly not enough netting.
Foul balls are particularly dangerous, as opposed to home run balls, because they have a shorter distance to reach the crowd, and there is far less time for fans to react to screaming line drives than there is for long homers.
“I don’t feel personally like it is the spectator’s job to worry about safety at these events,” the boy’s mother, Tonya Lipscomb, said, via Fox 59. “Of course, we take extra precautions, but I can’t educate a three-year-old on how to watch out for a fastball. I mean even if a fastball we’re coming at me as an adult how am I supposed to protect myself from that.”
How realistic is change at baseball stadiums?
After these two recent episodes, there may be an even bigger push for extended netting. As the Chicago Tribune points out, the MLB Players Association unsuccessfully pushed for netting between each foul pole and home plate in 2006 and 2016, and Japanese stadiums have had pole-to-pole netting for quite some time.
Still, there remain plenty of American fans and executives who stand opposed to this seemingly obvious fix. Whether it’s a perceived drop in experience or ticket revenue, MLB does not seem ready to solve a problem entirely of its own doing.
A woman died last year because of a foul ball. If that’s not enough to change someone’s mind, I’m not sure what will. How many others needless injuries do we have to withstand before putting up more unobtrusive netting?
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