Safety First – New Netting

We all know those great unobstructed seats close to the field can be dangerous. If you occupy those seats you have to pay attention.  You have to be aware of each and every pitch and every swing of the bat.  You can’t look down and check your Facebook feed or bend down to grab that bag of peanuts under your seat while the game is being played. You need to pay attention every second because that laser line drive coming off the bat could injure you or whoever your seat mate is.  I would always cringe when seeing small children sitting in the sections that get peppered with foul balls.

That’s all going to change for the 2018 season.  Today Major League Baseball announced that all 30 teams are going to be extending their netting to the ends of the dugouts.  This league wide announcement comes after eleven teams had already independently announced they had plans to extend their netting for Opening Day.

Most Major League ballparks only had netting behind home plate.  Most fans appreciated the unobstructed views of the diamond.  It’s what we grew up with and what ballparks have had for years.  Down the first and third base lines netting didn’t exist as it was believed you’d have time to react to balls or bats coming into the stands.  All ballparks having different dimensions and their own uniqueness made mandating netting requirements tough.

Over the years the teams have tried to make fans in these seats aware. Ballparks have signage that tell you to pay attention during the game.  The public address announcer tells you to pay attention over the speakers and you can also find a disclaimer on the back of your ticket.

Last season New York Yankee Todd Frazier sent a foul ball into the stands injuring a young girl.   Foul balls weren’t the only thing injuring fans.  In 2015 in Boston play had to be stopped as a female fan was carted off after being struck by a broken bat in the second inning. A 2014 Bloomberg analysis of foul ball-related injuries predicted that roughly 1,750 fans a year are injured due to batted balls at all of the Major League Baseball stadiums.  We all forward to seeing those numbers decline in 2018 with the new netting installations.