Dodgers to extend stadium netting after young fan struck in head by foul ball, team president says

Jack BaerYahoo Sports

Less than 24 hours after a young fan was hospitalized after being struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten said the team will soon extend the stadium’s foul ball netting.

Kasten said that plans to extend the netting past the ends of each dugout would be in announced in the next couple of weeks, according to the Orange County Register:

“We have been talking for some time with different providers and looking at different options,” Kasten said Monday. “Surely we will be expanding netting. I don’t know yet the final configuration. Obviously there are some different choices to be made and different products which each come with their own set of challenges.”

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Kasten said the timing of the installation of additional netting has not been determined yet but it seems “likely” the Dodgers will be able to do the project before the end of this season.

“I can’t say that for sure although I think it’s likely,” Kasten said. “For sure, something is going to be done. As for the exact timing, I don’t know that yet.”

The young woman was hit by a Cody Bellinger foul ball while sitting just past the end of the first base protective netting. She was initially given an ice pack by first aid personnel, but was soon taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary exams.

Cody Bellinger tried to check on the fan struck by his foul ball at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Cody Bellinger tried to check on the fan struck by his foul ball at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Bellinger was visibly disturbed by the incident, and advocated for extending the nets after the game.

“I would assume that would be a smart decision, just to protect those people in the front row that don’t have reaction time,” Bellinger said, according to the Register. “I mean, I’m over at first base and I’ve got to be ready, and they’re 10 feet over from me.”

Bellinger isn’t the only player to endorse extending the netting, as other players whose foul balls have hit fans and the head of the MLB Players Association have pushed for the extension.

The Dodgers’ extension of the netting also comes less than a year after a 79-year-old woman died after being hit in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium. It should be noted that fan was actually seated behind the protective netting; the foul ball was reportedly hit just over the netting.

How far will the Dodger Stadium netting be extended?

Kasten didn’t make any commitments on how far the new Dodger Stadium netting will be extended, so it’s hard to say just how much a difference the change will make. The nets reaching only a few more yards down the line would likely have protected the young fan hit Sunday, but it would still leave many fans at risk of being struck by line drives.

The Dodgers are joining the Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers in extending the netting just after all MLB teams finally reached the milestone of netting that extended to the ends of the dugouts.

The conversation over foul ball netting has been going on for some time in baseball, something Kasten credited as helping make it easier for teams continuing to push the nets down the foul lines:

“I think it was expected in baseball because all of us have been talking about doing more. All of the teams have. It wasn’t a surprise at all,” Kasten said of those announcements. “One of the things that has changed and has been helpful is that the modern-day fan has more of an expectation of seeing netting than they ever have before. And that’s useful to know because customer opinions are very important.”

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