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National Pastime Faces Safety Concerns

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Few things say “summertime” like an afternoon at the ballpark cheering on the home team.  Even if Major League Baseball tickets have gotten a little pricey, there are hundreds of minor league teams dotting the map offering an affordable diversion.  Baseball games may be a lot of fun to watch, but recent incidents have highlighted the danger of being too close to the action.

Objects Leaving the Field

Two months ago, a woman suffered life-threatening injuries when she was struck by a broken bat that left the playing field.  Although fans are reminded to be vigilant for objects leaving the field, many seats along the first- and third-base lines are too close to the action for ordinary fans to react.  And while it’s one thing for a highly paid player to be 100% focused on each pitch, even the most careful paying customers let their guard down from time to time.  According to a Bloomberg report, about 1,750 fans are hurt each year by batted balls.

Number of Fans Hurt by Batted Balls: 1,750

Batters Hit by Pitch: 1,536

Source: Bloomberg Business, Sept. 9, 2014

Safety Nets Not Safe Enough?

When a 14-year-old girl was killed by an errant puck at an NHL game in 2002, hockey was quick to adopt enhanced safety netting and higher plexiglass walls.  Baseball, on the other hand, has been criticized for not extending safety netting along the dangerous basepaths.  A federal lawsuit has been filed against Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred seeking to require safety netting from home plate to the foul pole.

Stadiums Share the Blame

This is not the first time MLB has been in hot water over fan safety.  A few years ago, a series of falls at baseball stadiums resulting in death and serious injuries gained national attention.  As Baseball, and other professional sports leagues, try to bring in the fans, it seems too often that a serious incident has to occur before safety is considered.