When a young girl was hit in the face with a foul ball traveling at 105 miles per hour at a New York Yankees game last September, it served as a warning for everyone in Major League Baseball.
Baseballs can leave the field of play at high speed, giving fans no time to react. It can cause potentially fatal damage.
“Every stadium needs to have nets,” said Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier at the time. “That’s it. I don’t care about the damn view of the fan. It’s all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach. I hope that kid’s OK. We need nets. Or don’t put kids down there.”
Luckily for everyone involved, the girl didn’t die from the injury suffered that day. The scare appears to be the wake up call needed.
On Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they are increasing the size of the protective netting at Rogers Centre.
“The Toronto Blue Jays will be replacing and extending the protective netting at Rogers Centre for the 2018 season, as part of our ongoing commitment to providing fans with a safe and enjoyable environment at the ballpark,” the team announced in a statement.
The new netting will extend all the way to the outfield side of each dugout (an increase of 150%) to section 126 and 117, respectively. Previously, seats behind each dugout were exposed.
Existing netting behind home plate will be replaced and increased in height by about 10 feet.
“The new state-of-the-art netting is designed to blend into the background and provide greater visibility, ensuring fans can remain close to the action in a safe manner, without compromising the viewing experience,” the statement added.
The Blue Jays have followed the lead of some other MLB teams, increasing protection for fans beyond the current league recommended guidelines.