MLB recommends clubs put up netting to protect fans

Wed Dec 9, 2015 2:49pm EST
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(Reuters) - Major League Baseball has recommended to all 30 clubs that they provide netting or other protection for fans from dugout to dugout as a safety precaution from foul line drives, the office of the commissioner said on Wednesday.

To assist in safety measures for spectators in field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate, MLB has retained a consultant in stadium architecture and protective netting to assist clubs in implementing the recommendation.

"Major League Baseball prides itself on providing fans in our ballparks with unparalleled proximity and access to our players and the game taking place on the field," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

"At the same time, it is important that fans have the option to sit behind protective netting or in other areas of the ballpark where foul balls and bats (that slip out of players' hands or shatter) are less likely to enter."

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers immediately issued statements expressing their intention to comply with the safety suggestion.

An Oakland Athletics season ticket holder filed a class action suit in federal court last season seeking to require MLB to extend netting from foul pole to foul pole, instead of just for sections behind home plate.

"She fears for her and her husband's safety, and particular for her daughter," the lawsuit said. "She is constantly ducking and weaving to avoid getting hit by foul balls or shattered bats."

Within a month at Fenway Park, one fan was hit in the face by a broken bat and sustained life-threatening injuries before eventually recovering, and another required 30 stitches after being hit in the head by a foul ball.

Even those in the dugout could sympathize.   Continued...

A Detroit Tigers baseball fan sporting face-paint leans into the infield fence as he waits out a rain delay that began prior to the start of Game 4 of the MLB ALCS baseball playoff series against the New York Yankees in Detroit, Michigan, October 17, 2012.  REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi