A new study has revealed over 800 people have been injured by foul balls at baseball games since 2012. NBC News looked at a number of factors — including lawsuits, news stories and emergency responses at parks — to come up with that figure.
After combing through the data, NBC News concluded at least 808 people have been injured by foul balls at Major League Baseball parks between 2012 and 2019. And that may not even be a comprehensive number.
The majority of those reports came from emergency response data gathered from the contracting companies that provide first aid at stadiums. NBC News received reports from just four MLB stadiums. Those added up to 701 incidents of fans receiving aid after being hit by foul balls. NBC News found the additional 107 instances by combing through news stories, lawsuits and social media.
The foul-ball issue has come to a head in recent seasons. Stories detailing horrific injuries suffered by fans have picked up traction. Players have been visibly shaken on the field during games, and have been vocal about the need for more protective netting following every incident.
Some teams have obliged. The Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals were among the first teams to extend netting at their ballparks. While some fans have taken issue with that, complaining that fans should always pay attention to the action on the field, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing had a good response for why that’s an unreasonable ask, according to NBC News.
"We have digital boards giving [fans] all sorts of information, and the cadence of baseball allows you to have a conversation and doesn't require you to have 100 percent attention to what's going on in the field."
A number of teams intend to extend protective netting next season, though 17 teams have yet to comment on their plans. Extending protective netting all the way down to the foul pole won’t completely eliminate fans being injured by balls, but it will dramatically reduce the rate at which fans are being hit.
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