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Netting Newsbeat

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Crying Foul Over Ballpark Injuries

For years, clubs have resisted adding nets, essentially because they didn’t want to interfere with fans’ views. When MLB issued its first recommendations for extended netting in December 2015, Manfred said in a press release, “Major League Baseball prides itself on providing fans in our ballparks with unparalleled proximity and access to our players and the game taking place on the field.”

Some teams claim engineering challenges prevent them from running netting all the way down the lines. For instance, in response to questions from SI, a Rangers spokesperson said, “The netting at Globe Life Field extends down each foul line and ends where the building geometry changes, making it difficult to run netting the entire length. Balls are not hit directly straight on into that area from home plate.”

But with ballparks re-opened at full capacity this summer, fans across the country have returned to games, where once again foul balls are hitting them. Two different fans on back-to-back days in June were struck by foul balls at Fenway Park, according to local news reports. The first, an unidentified woman, was hospitalized, treated and released, while the second, a man named Rob Redman, was hit in the forehead and fortunately left with nothing more than a bruise. Early last month, a little girl was hit with a foul ball at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (she appeared to be O.K.; the Red Sox and Pirates did not respond to requests for comment).

For more than a century, baseball owners have had nearly automatic protection from lawsuits filed against them for foul-ball injuries because of a pair of legal rulings that created an exemption that has come to be known as the Baseball Rule. But, a series of recent lawsuits—including one Loos filed against MLB and the Cubs—are threatening that previously ironclad immunity. At the same time, a group of injured fans are working with members of Congress to push for netting from foul pole to foul pole at every ballpark and the abolition of the Baseball Rule. Together, these efforts could be what finally forces teams to act.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2021 at 10:34 PM | 1 comment(s)
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