NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York Yankees took a big step forward for fan safety Sunday, as they announced plans to extend the netting across the first and third base lines.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the announcement of the plan to “significantly expand” the netting comes amid calls from fans, officials, and players alike for additional protective netting at Yankee Stadium after a hard-hit, line-drive foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier struck a little girl in the face last month.
When the ball hit the curly-headed 1-year-old girl late last month, tears streamed down the eyes of many who saw it – including the players on the field.
Many parents agreed it was hard to watch.
“As a dad, you know your heart reaches out for anybody with a child who gets hurt like that,” said Yankees fan Chris Meeks.
“It’s terrible,” said Yankees fan Lois Gordon. “Obviously, you there’s a risk when you go to the game. But I think it is time to get the netting.”
And now, 11 days after the incident, the team said in a statement that they’re consulting with experts and the league to “analyze and determine the best and most appropriate type of material, color and installation methods.”
“While the current protective netting meets the recommended guidelines established by Major League Baseball, the additional protective netting we are planning to install for the 2018 season will exceed the current guidelines established by the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball,” the statement continued.
The Yankees said they will also expand the protective netting at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida.
“You know, the ball is extremely hard and sometimes reaction time isn’t good,” said Yankees Manager Joe Girardi. “Sometimes you’re blinded by the fan in front, so anything that keeps them safe, I’m all for.”
In the Sept. 20 incident, the 105 mph ball hit the little girl as she sat on her grandfather’s lap in an unprotected section behind the dugout. The incident sent out a call to expand the stadium’s current netting, which only shields the area between the two dugouts behind home plate.
The girl was the second child to be injured while sitting behind a base line at Yankee Stadium this year. In May, a boy was hit by a piece of a broken bat.
The expanded netting is recommended, but not mandated, by Major League Baseball. CBS2’s Sanchez asked fans if they thought it should be required for all stadiums.
“I don’t think so,” said fan Chris Lorenzo. “I mean it is a safety precaution, which is nice, but I don’t know – it seems like a little bit too much if you ask me.”
But while some complained the netting may obstruct the views, most fans said safety comes first.
“Any kind of measure, and it’s not that bad, that can protect someone from that kind of damage to the body, I think in the long run is pretty good for baseball,” said Yankees fan Sharwan Singh.
The Yankees said they are consulting with experts before deciding how much to extend the netting and what kind and color material to use. They said they are also considering comments from fans.
Earlier this year, the Mets increased their netting down the first and third base lines all the way to the middle of the outfield.