Posted by: Bob Gorman | July 16, 2019

Where Are the Most Dangerous Seats in the Ballpark?

All major league ballparks have now extended their protective netting to at least the far ends of their dugouts; a few have extended them even further.  The assumption is that fans seated in the most dangerous areas are now protected from screaming line drives and pinwheeling bats.  As recent fan injuries have tragically demonstrated, that assumption is a false one.  Spectators are still being struck by balls and bats at an alarming rate.  A recent study by FiveThirtyEight.com conclusively proved that those field-level sections immediately beyond the dugouts – areas that are still unprotected in most stadiums – are indeed the most dangerous.  Researchers looked at 906 foul balls in ten major league venues and here is what they found:

The scariest foul balls are those with high exit velocities, particularly the line drives, which give spectators only seconds — or fractions of a second — to react. Statcast was able to measure exit velocities for 580 of the 906 foul balls in our data set, and most of the hardest-hit of those 580 landed in areas that are primarily unprotected. Of the fly balls with recorded exit velocities of 90 mph or higher, 71.8 percent landed in zones 4 and 5 (see diagram below).  And all of the line drives that left the bat at 90 mph or more landed in those same zones.

It is long past time for MLB and MiLB to do the right thing by their fans and extend the netting all the way to the foul poles.  Anything less is unconscionable.

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Posted by: Bob Gorman | April 10, 2019

Baseball Coach and Wife Electrocuted

Corey Crum, 39, Liberty County (FL) High School baseball coach and his wife, Shana Crum, 41, were both electrocuted on March 10, 2019, while installing a new scoreboard on the school’s baseball field in Bristol.  He was operating a boom lift when it came into contact with nearby powerlines.  His wife was electrocuted when she came to the aid of her husband.  Their 14-year-old son was also injured, but survived the accident.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | February 18, 2019

Dodgers Fan Killed by Foul Ball

Linda Goldbloom, 78, was seated with her husband in the loge level just to the first-base side of home plate during an August 25, 2018, game at Dodger Stadium when a sharply-hit foul ball in the top of ninth inning flew just over the top of the protective screening, striking her on the head.  She was rushed to an area hospital where she remained in a coma until her death on August 29.  The cause of death was listed as “acute intracranial hemorrhage due to history of blunt force trauma.”  Hers was the second recorded fatality in the major leagues due to a foul ball.  The first was also at Dodger Stadium.  On May 16, 1970, 14-year-old Alan Fish was struck on his head by a foul ball off the bat of Manny Mota; he youngster passed away on the afternoon of May 20.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | July 30, 2018

Man Dies in Ballpark Beer Cooler

Todd Keeling, 48, was found dead inside a beer cooler he was installing at SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves stadium, on June 26, 2018.  Keeling had been working overnight to install his patented beer-pouring device when his body was discovered by a coworker the next day.  His death is under investigation.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | July 30, 2018

Woman Kills Man with Car on Baseball Field

Carol Sharrow, 51, is accused of manslaughter after she broke through a fence with her car and drove onto a baseball field in Sanford, ME, on June 1, 2018, striking and killing Doug Parkhurst, 68, while a youth baseball game was in progress. In an aside note, Parkhurst had confessed in 2013 to a hit-and-run incident in 1968 in which he killed a 4-year-old girl in Fulton, NY.  There was no apparent connection between the two incidents.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | April 16, 2018

Injured Fans Speak Out

Dina Simpson was attending a minor league ball game in Ohio several years ago when she was struck in the right eye by a foul ball.  The blow caused permanent loss of sight in that eye.  Andy Zlotnick suffered a similar fate when he was struck in the left eye during a New York Yankees game in 2011.  Below are links to recent editorials by both of them in which they advocate for greater fan safety measures at major and minor league baseball parks.  While they acknowledge that organized ball has made some steps toward better protection of fans, both forcefully argue that much more has to be done to ensure that no one needlessly suffer the types of injuries that they sustained.

Dina Simpson’s editorial:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-opinions-are-local/wp/2018/04/11/extend-the-netting-at-minor-league-parks-in-maryland/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ff07677af6be

Andy Zlotnick’s editorial:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/fan-injured-foul-ball-mlb-give-funds-wounded-fans-article-1.3911394

Posted by: Bob Gorman | March 31, 2018

New Examination of the Baseball Rule

Legal scholars Nathaniel Grow and Zachary Flagel recently published an article in the William and Mary Law Review that underscores the antiquated nature of the Baseball Rule.  First, the authors provide “new empirical evidence establishing that the risk of being hit by an errant ball or bat at a professional baseball game has increased considerably in recent years. Specifically, fans attending MLB games today are sitting more than twenty percent closer to the field than they were when the legal doctrine was first established. This fact, along with other changes in the way in which the game is played and presented to fans, have converged to substantially reduce the reaction time that spectators have to protect themselves from flying objects entering the stands, calling into question courts’ continued reliance on the century-old rule.”  Second, they assert “that courts and academic commentators have, to date, failed to reconsider the Baseball Rule in light of the emergence of the law-and-economics movement,” concluding “that future courts (or legislatures) should reject the Baseball Rule and instead hold professional baseball teams liable for spectator injuries.”

For the complete article, see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3143732.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | March 31, 2018

Juiced Balls and Fan Safety

Whenever their is a surge in home run production, the inevitable question about whether or nor the ball is juiced always comes up.  Such was the case in 1961, for example, when Roger Maris surpassed Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record.  Studies at the time, however, failed to produce any real evidence that the balls were any more livelier than in the past.

With a record-setting 6,105 homers last season – more than at any time during the steroid period – questions have again arisen over the composition of the ball.  Are they juiced in some way?  According to some recent studies, it appears that the ball is indeed livelier than in the recent past.  These investigations “have shown differences in the characteristics of the ball and the way it performs. Research has shown that balls used in games after the 2015 All-Star Game were bouncier and less air resistant compared with baseballs from the 2014 season, when players hit a relatively modest 4,1086 homers, the fewest since 1995.”  As a result of changes in the composition of the ball, they come off the bat at a greater velocity and travel further than they did prior to mid-2015.  These changes combined with the new batting philosophy of increasing launch angle to put more balls in the air means increased danger for fans in the stands.  More balls in the air traveling at faster speeds increases the number fouls and gives spectators even less time to react when a ball is headed their way.

For a report on these studies, see https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/juiced-baseballs/.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | January 16, 2018

Yankees Extend Netting

The New York Yankees have finally decide to do right by their fans and extend the protective netting well beyond the first and third base bags.  The Yankees are one of the last major league teams to either extend netting or to announce plans to do so.  In addition, New York Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has introduced legislation requiring all ballparks in New York state with a seating capacity of more than 5,000 to extend netting all the way to the foul poles.  Part of her motivation in doing so was the serious injury to a young girl that occurred at Yankee Stadium this past summer.  Let’s all hope that Ms. Paulin’s proposal is enacted into law.

Posted by: Bob Gorman | November 21, 2017

Red Sox Extend Netting

The Boston Red Sox are the latest team to announce that they are extending safety netting further than MLB minimum recommendation of 70 feet.  Presently, the nets reach the near ends of the dugouts.  The plan is to extend them some 140 feet down each of the baselines, about twice the distance of Fenway’s existing netting.  “Fan safety is one of the most important things we consider each offseason as we work to improve the game experience at Fenway Park and the decision was made to take this step,” stated Red Sox spokesperson Zineb Curran.

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