What follows is a list of some of the serious injuries from balls and bats suffered by fans at major and minor league games during the 2016 season. It is by no means a comprehensive list:
A Kansas City Royals fan, sitting along the third base line just beyond the newly extended netting in Kaufman Stadium, was struck in the face by a foul ball on April 3. The ball hit him above his upper lip, causing him to lose consciousness for several moments.
A woman was struck in the eye by a foul ball during an April 15 game at Tropicana Field between the Rays and White Sox. The ball passed through the gap left for television cameras between the original netting and the newly extended netting. The victim was removed by stretcher and taken to an area hospital for treatment. Several days after the incident, the Rays added netting to cover the gap.
A woman was struck in the face while trying to catch a foul ball at an El Paso Chihuahuas game on April 20. She was transported to a local hospital as a precaution.
A 6-year-old boy was severely injured when struck on the head by a foul ball during a Charlotte Knights game the weekend of May 14. Although the Knights had extended the safety netting to the far ends of the dugouts this season, the family was seated in the first row on the third base side just beyond where the new netting ended. The child sustained a skull fracture and a concussion which required hospitalization in an intensive care unit for several days. Said the attending physician, “If you get hit in the head with a baseball going a hundred miles an hour, you can sustain skull fractures; you can sustain internal bleeding in your head that can possibly be fatal.”
A male fan seated five rows back from the third base visitors’ dugout was struck in the face by a piece of broken bat during a game at Fenway Park on May 14. He sustained a two-inch cut above his right eye, but was able to leave the game without assistance.
A 7-year-old boy was struck on the left side of his head by a line drive foul ball at a May 17 game at Petco Park in San Diego. The screaming liner bounced back 20 rows in one section only to ricochet forward 12 rows to where he was seated two sections over down the right field line. Fortunately, the youngster did not sustain severe injuries from the blow.
Even major league ball players are not immune from the dangers of foul balls. Miami Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich was struck on the back of his head by a foul ball that ricocheted off the dugout wall during the ninth inning of a game in Atlanta on May 29. The blow knocked Dietrich down for several minutes, but he remained conscious. Dietrich remained overnight in Atlanta as a precaution where he was examined and cleared to resume play the following day.
A woman at a June 29 Fisher Cats game in Manchester, NH, was taken to the hospital after she was struck in the head by a foul ball while seated along the first base line.
A woman had to be removed by stretcher after she was struck in the head by a foul ball during the first inning of a game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field on July 26. The fan, seated down the right field line, may have been blinded by the sun and did not see the ball heading her way.
A young woman seated near the third base dugout at Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium suffered a ruptured left eyeball when struck by a foul ball during a Montgomery Biscuits game on August 13. The damaged eyeball was completely removed a couple of weeks later. Local baseball broadcaster Melanie Newman tweeted that “it’s easily the most horrifying thing I have witnessed live. It’s changed a lot of things for my mindset.”
A young girl seated near the third base dugout was struck in the face by a foul ball off the bat of Freddy Galvis during a Phillies game on August 20. Although the Phillies had extended the netting ten feet to the near ends of the dugouts, the child was seated in an unprotected area. Said Galvis after the game, “What year is this? 2016? It’s 2016 and fans keep getting hit by foul balls when you’re supposed to have a net to protect the fans. The fans give you the money, so you should protect them, right? We’re worried about speeding up the game. Why don’t you put up a net and protect all the fans? What if I broke all her teeth. What if I broke her nose. If I hit her in one eye and she loses that. What are they going to do? They’re going to forget in three days. It’s going to be a big deal for two, three days. Everybody in TV, media, whatever. But after three days what’s going to happen? They’re going to forget. But that family won’t forget that. Do you think the little baby will forget that? It’s true life. It’s something you have to put before everything. Safety first. Safety.”
The following day (August 21), a mother at a Phillies game was struck in the mouth by a foul ball while trying to protect her daughter. The ball ricocheted off the top of the third base dugout, striking the woman who was seated in the top rows of the lower level seating. Freddy Galvis, who witnessed the injury, was seen to throw his hands up in frustration.
On August 22, a woman at a Brewers game in Miller Park was struck on the left ear by a line drive foul off the bat of Colorado’s Nick Hundley. The injured fan was removed by stretcher and taken to an area hospital.
A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball that ricocheted off the roof of the visiting team dugout during the fourth inning of a Cleveland Indians game on September 4. The injured fan, holding a bloody towel to her nose, needed assistance to walk to the first aid station.
A woman was seriously injured when a foul ball struck her in the face during the seventh inning of World Series Game 7 in Cleveland on November 2. Knocked unconscious by the blow, she was taken from the stadium on a stretcher with her head and neck immobilized.