Foul balls are a part of baseball. Fans love to catch them. But a couple weeks ago, a little girl at the Cubs-Astros game was struck, sending her to the hospital, and Cubs batter Albert Amora Junior into a panic. Last year a 79-year woman died after being struck at a Dodger game.
“Anytime, especially a little girl like that, even an adult, anytime you hit somebody with a line drive, it’s got to feel terrible,” said Bees manager Lou Marson. “But it’s out of his control.”
Major and Minor League teams are required to have protective netting extend to the front of each dugout. But the Bees have gone further.
“In fact, we’ve already extended our nets beyond what the recommendation is from Major League Baseball,” said Bees general manager Marc Amicone. “The nets have now been extended to the far ends of both dugouts. Obviously fan safety is extremely important to all of us.”
The question many teams are facing is should the nets be extended all the way down the lines like they do in Japan. Some fans say that would be going to too far, and would take away from enjoyment of the game.
“I definitely see the downside to the game,” said Bees fan Alden Thorpe. “When we walked in, the bullpen for the away team, they saw my son and they tossed him a ball. That would not be a thing anymore with the netting. So, it would definitely take away from the experience.”
“I make sure I bring my glove and my son has his glove,” said Bees fan Trevor Bradford. “If anyone is really concerned, I suggest you sit in the upper deck or behind the screen. They also have signs that say objects may leave the field at any time.”
Other fans wouldn’t mind having the extra protection.
“I would like it because I sit here and always make sure I’m on this side of the kids,” said Bees fan Lori Thorpe. “I try to keep a real good eye out because I don’t want them getting hit by a ball. So, it’s really very scary.”
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will readdress the protective netting issue this off-season, but injuries are becoming more commonplace.
“Anytime I leave friends or family tickets, I try to mention to them to stay behind the net or pay attention to the game if you’re not,” Marson said.