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Wave of the Future? Dodgers to Extend Protective Netting

December 11th, 2015 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

This is a good idea — extending the protective netting at Dodger Stadium to reach the edge of both dugouts.

Too many objects fly into the seats near home plate, both balls and bats or even shards of bats.

Major League Baseball has recommended all of its teams extend the netting, and the Dodgers were one of the first to announce they will comply with the suggestion.

Sometimes it seems as if one fan gets hurt at every game, usually by foul balls into the stands.

The net directly behind home protects fans just a few yards away from the most common foul balls, those that glance off a bat and sail backwards into … the net.

What the Dodgers have planned is an improvement but, as I understand it, it will expand the net only incrementally, closing off the few yards of space between where the net ends now and where the dugouts begin. (See the photo with the story linked, above.)

Certainly, that is a hot zone for flying objects.

But anyone who sees many ballgames knows that a hard-hit ball, off a bat swung too early or too late, can rocket into the stands beyond the dugouts.

A 14-year-old boy at Dodger Stadium was hit by a foul ball, off the bat of Manny Mota, in 1970, and died.

I remember that sad event, as does this journalist still based in Los Angeles, who wrote about the incident five years ago.

The stat about baseballs entering the stands is “an average of 40 per game”. Most of those create a bruise or two, at worst.

But it is a bit surprising no one else has been killed by a batted ball at a Major League Baseball game in the past 45 years — or, actually at any MLB game.

(However, as Tom Hoffarth notes: “According to research by Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price last year, for a story and book he did on the 2007 death of Arkansas Travelers third-base coach Mike Coolbaugh, who was hit by a foul ball during a minor-league game, 52 spectators are known to have been killed by foul balls since 1887. But only two occurred in professional games.”)

Makes you wonder, now that Major League Baseball is thinking about this, if, eventually, the whole of the field, from foul poll to foul poll, might someday be fenced off by netting.

(It seems fairly safe to leave seats in the outfield open to the game, because home runs have lost a bunch of their velocity, by the time they leave the playing area.)

Anyway, it makes you think about the risks of going to a game … including NBA games, where both players and fans sitting at courtside are at risk from very large men crashing into them.

Going to see your favorite sport, and often paying a lot of money to do so, should not get a fan killed or injured.


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