MLB recommends protective netting, doesn't require it

A debate over protective netting at baseball games has sparked again after a young girl was hit in the face by a foul ball at Wednesday's Yankees v. Minnesota Twins game in New York.

Chatter about safety at Major League Baseball games got louder overnight after a young girl was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium.

The game against the Minnesota Twins was delayed for about four minutes Wednesday afternoon as the girl was carried out of the stadium and taken to a nearby hospital. She was hit by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the bottom of the fifth inning.

It was only six weeks ago the Yankees "were seriously exploring" extending the netting prior to the 2018 season following a similar incident.

On July 25, an Aaron Judge foul ball, which was also clocked at 105 mph, struck a fan in the head and he required emergency response. The Yankees then said they were consulting with manufacturing and design firms on how to extend the netting at their stadium.

In 2015, a woman suffered life-threatening injuries at Boston's Fenway Park after being hit in the head by a flying piece of a broken bat. Following the horrifying accident, MLB issued a list of recommendations, not requirements, for clubs to install protective netting stating:

Clubs are encouraged to implement or maintain netting (or another effective protective screen or barrier of their choosing) that shields from line-drive foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate, inclusive of any adjacent camera wells) and within 70 feet of home plate. The Commissioner's Office has retained a consultant specializing in stadium architecture and protective netting to assist interested Clubs in implementing this recommendation.

The recommendations also include finding new "ways to educate their fans" on the dangers posed by batted balls and bats while sitting in field-level seats.

MLB ballparks do post warnings about high-risk seats, usually on scoreboards and nearby the seats. Information about where these seats are are available at the point of sale, whether online or at a ticket window.

Following Wednesday's incident at Yankee Stadium, MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. said in a statement, “The events at yesterday's game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game. Over the past few seasons MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks. In light of yesterday's event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.” 

When asked about the issue of netting in general, Manfred said.

"It remains an ongoing discussion in the industry." he continued, "We gave some guidelines two years ago and what we have done since then is that we have encouraged the individual clubs to engage in a localized process, look at their own stadiums - every stadium is different - and to try to make a good decision about how far the netting should go in order to promote fan safety. If you look at what's happened, there has been a continuous, forward movement in terms of increased netting in stadiums around the leagues, and I expect that process will continue this off-season."
 
Currently, there are 10 clubs that have decided to place protective netting on the far ends of the each dugout or further.
 
They are:

* Atlanta
* Houston
* Kansas City
* Minnesota
* New York Mets
* Philadelphia
* Pittsburgh
* St. Louis
* Texas
* Washington
 
On Thursday, the Colorado Rockies announced they would begin the process of expanding their stadium netting for the 2018 season.
 
They wrote in a press release:
"Ensuring the safety of our fans has always been our number one priority. In fact, the most important aspect of creating the best fan experience possible starts with the protection of our Coors Field guests. With that in mind, we felt it was important to let our fans know that we have been in discussions with vendors for the past several months with regard to expanded netting for the 2018 season at Coors Field. Beginning with vendor selection, this project is complex. There are engineering issues to address as well as decisions about height, material type, material color, cabling, length and location. In order to communicate the most complete information possible to our fans, we intend to make these determinations this offseason, all with fan safety in mind."
 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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