ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A 2-year-old girl was hit in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium Wednesday. It had a lot of people talking on social media and calling for expanded netting at ball parks.
If anyone's qualified to take a bat at this issue, it's Zack Hample. He's a baseball super fan who travels to more than 100 games a season, to every stadium and has collected more than 10,000 game balls.
“How many more incidents like this do there have to be before all teams put up the nets?” Hample asked.
“There's this whole element that's really removed because of the netting, but I also kind of feel like, well, too bad, this is just the new reality now, this is what people have to deal with.”
On average, 1,750 fans are hurt each year by foul balls or broken bats at major and minor league baseball parks, according to several reports citing studies on the issue.
People hit have suffered black eyes, bruising, fractures and broken bones.
Even someone who's athletic, attentive and brings a glove like Hample needs to be careful.
“There have been games where I have been sitting so close to the action front row by the dugout or near the on deck circle where I have actually crouched down and watched the game with the glove in front of my face because there could be a check-swing foul ball that just shoots back in half a second.”
If you have kids, this is probably a concern if you plan on heading out to a ball game soon. We reached out to the Rays and our area's four minor league teams to get answers on netting. We didn’t get a firm answer, but we know that only a third of teams have expanded netting, including the Rays.
The Rays also took action last year when a ball struck a fan because of a gap between two nets. They covered it up.
“I love baseball more than I hate netting, so I will continue to go to games even if they put nets around the entire stadium,” Hample said.
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