Fenway Park to Expand Safety Netting in Response to Fan Injuries
Major League Baseball took a step toward improving fan safety Wednesday, calling on its 30 teams to expand safety netting at ballparks to include any field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate.
The Red Sox said it would comply with the league’s recommendation, reports the Globe, and announced plans to add netting between the dugouts and home plate. The team has yet to decide how high and what type, according to Red Sox beat writer Peter Abraham.
“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 Robert 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 batts are less likely to enter.”
“This recommendation attempts to balance the need for an adequate number of seating options with our desire to preserve the interactive pre-game and in-game fan experience that often center around the dugouts, where fans can catch foul balls, see their favorite players up close, and, if they are lucky, catch a tossed ball or other souvenir,” Manfred said.
The move comes after two fans were injured at Fenway Park last season in separate incidents. In June, Tonya Carpenter of Paxton was struck by a shard of broken bat, after Oakland Athletics infielder Brett Lawrie fouled off a pitch. In a gruesome scene, Carpenter was taken out of Fenway Park on a stretcher, screaming in pain while her young son watched. She was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, and later underwent brain surgery.
In July, Stephanie Wapenski of Branford, Connecticut required more than 40 stitches after she was struck in the forehead by a foul ball.
“I am confident that this recommendation will result not only in additional netting at Major League ballparks but also draw addition attention to the need for fans who make the choice to sit behind netting to be prepared for the possibility of foul balls and bats entering the stands,” Manfred said.
The MLB also said it would work with teams and online ticketing sellers to indicate to fans at the point of sale which seats are behind netting and which are not.