This week another fan was hit by a speeding foul ball at a major league baseball game, this time a young girl. The girl was rushed to the hospital where her condition remains unknown, though there are reports she was responsive after the incident (story HERE).
After it happened, the entire stadium was hit with grief. Talking during the television broadcast stopped. The player was crying in the arms of a security guard and what should have been a memorable summer time experience for everyone involved will instead be another sports tragedy, and another instance of a fan being hit with a speeding foul ball during a game.
I’ve been a Cubs fan my entire life, and happened to be watching that match up against the Astros, and for the next hour I was constantly searching for news updates on Twitter for updates on the girl’s condition.
As crazy as it sounds, it would be inaccurate to say tragedies like these are a danger to major league baseball, it’s happened before, but it is a danger to fans that want to share America’s pastime with their loved ones.
Gary Sheffield once hit two terrifying foul balls my way in one game during a Yankees spring training outing in Tampa. Those are dangerous projectiles that have to be taken seriously.
The challenge here is that there are no easy solutions. They could extend netting protecting the crowd even further, but the truth is a foul ball hit anywhere by a professional athlete can hurt people.
MLB could offer helmets to fans? I don’t know how popular that would be or how their design wouldn’t ruin the experience.
The best course of action would be to issue a foul ball reminder to the audience at the beginning of every inning. Most teams only do it at the beginning of a game. This needs to be an automated message before the pitcher settles in and the umpire should be trained to listen for it.
Indeed, this is a challenge for baseball but they have to keep exploring. Every tragedy like the one that occured this past week is a step backwards for our national past time.