Last September, a two-year-old girl was hit in the face by a sharply-hit foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Fortunately, she’s going to be all right.
This incident produced more calls for netting behind home plate to be extended beyond where many ballparks had it.
Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that all 30 ballparks will have netting extended to at least the far end of each dugout in place by Opening day.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement: “Providing baseball fans with a variety of seating options when they come to the ballpark, including seats behind protective netting, is important. Major League Clubs are constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting and I am pleased that they are providing fans an increased inventory of protected seats.”
This is a good thing. Even if you are paying close attention to every pitch at a baseball game, if you’re seated in a lower box seat between the dugouts, foul balls often can be hit so hard and so fast that it’s not possible to get out of the way. This extended netting means that many more fans will be safe from being hit by foul balls.
MLB put minimum guidelines for this in place in December 2015, according to a press release, and all 30 teams have extended netting beyond the minimum recommendations. At Wrigley Field, since the Cubs are moving dugouts farther down each line, this means even more fans will be in protected areas.
Kudos to MLB and its teams for recognizing a problem and doing something to fix it.