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Ballparks should install nets down the lines

Jun 24, 2009, 8:56 AM EST

New York Times’ blogger Tyler Kepner is impressed with the safety measures at Turner Field:

Turner Field is the second ballpark the Yankees have seen this
season with protective netting that extends beyond the norm. Every
stadium has a tall screen behind the plate to protect the fans from
hard-hit foul balls. Here in Atlanta, the Braves also have a shorter
screen, maybe eight feet off the ground, running in front of the seats
behind the on-deck circles on either side of the plate . . . Such
safety measures make sense, and should be in place at every ballpark.

Kepner cites the death of Mike Coolbaugh as a cautionary tale, and
notes how quickly baseball would act if the unthinkable happened and a
fan was killed by a foul ball. Such a thing is not unthinkable in my
hometown of Columbus, Ohio, however. That’s because a thirteen year-old girl was killed by an errant puck
during a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game seven years ago. That
incident led to the implementation of mandatory netting at either end
of the rink in every arena. Before the incident there were all kinds of
arguments against putting up such nets. Afterward, those arguments lost
all currency.

The same applies to baseball. I’m sure people can construct all
kinds of arguments as to why they shouldn’t extend protective netting
down the lines. But in light of how big, strong, fast and, above all
else, close Major League batters are to the fans these days, none of
those arguments are enough to overcome the sheer logic and prudence
which dictates putting up some nets.

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