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Foul balls into the stands: “You can hear the screams of the fan that’s been hit”

May 13, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

Foul ball

I was on the first base line at Great American Ballpark on Saturday and a pop fly foul ball came my way, about three rows back and 25-30 feet beyond where we were sitting. It wasn’t caught on the fly. A few moments later I heard some commotion, looked back and saw a girl a little older than my daughter holding her face, her nose bloody.  Medical folks came down and with the help of some ice and a towel, she seemed generally OK.

But a lot of people who get hit by foul balls — especially liners as opposed to that pop up in Cincy — aren’t so OK. And that can get into the heads of players, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, who spoke with some Padres players about it:

“When you are hitting, you are so in the moment,” Denorfia continued. “When you foul one off like that, it changes everything. There’s a deafening silence. You can hear the screams of the fan that’s been hit. It takes you out of what you are doing, changes the perspective.

“It’s hard to continue the at-bat with the focus you originally had.”

We have some great ballparks these days. But the fans are also way closer to the action than ever. I don’t feel like a lot of people who sit down low and close realize how much damage a batted baseball can do.

  1. historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Where the hell were her parents/adults?

    • heyblueyoustink - May 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Speed of the ball at the moment, hard to do anything other than instinctive in that situation.

      Hopefully they do something about extending the netting before something akin to what happened in the NHL happens in a MLB ballpark.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        I hope you aren’t a parent. I’m a grown woman and my mom still instinctively throws her arm in front of me when we have to stop fast in traffic. Of course, she might have a better glove than you too. ;)

      • beefytrout - May 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Your mom pulls the “stop short” on you? That’s kinda hot.

      • sneschalmers - May 13, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        @histriophiliac – There’s a difference between driving (where your primary attention is focused on the road and task at hand due to the inherent safety concerns of operating a 2 ton metal box at high speed among other 2 ton metal boxes also moving at high speed) and sitting at a ballgame where your attention is divided up among many different, non-potentially lethal leisure activities (watching the game, talking to people who came with you to the game, watching child, buying concessions, etc…).

        If you’re a parent, historiophiliac, you know how a child can suddenly slip away from your line of sight if you turn your back for even a split second. And the velocity with which a baseball comes off a bat can be so fast that even major leaguers can’t get their gloves up fast enough to protect themselves when they are paying complete attention to the game (e.g. JA Happ).

      • heyblueyoustink - May 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        No, I decided pretty young I didn’t want to marry and have kids. I choose freedom in that regard, with nothing but the upmost appreciation and admiration for folks that decide to raise children.

        Chalmers puts exactly what i’m saying into better words. A trained professional is muscle memory trained for the ball flying at them at high speed. Normal folk, not so much, so I don’t just carte blanche blame a parent for something like this.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        You folks have yourselves a nice day.

      • sneschalmers - May 13, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        You too.

      • heyblueyoustink - May 13, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        You too! :-)

        That’ll be my last serious thought of the day Historio, I promise.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        Some people got no sense of humor. Guess I lost the internets today. :)

    • billybawl - May 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      When I sit anywhere in field level with my kids, I bring a glove and we keep an eye on the game. But it’s impossible to be vigilant 100% of the time.

    • recoveringcubsfan - May 13, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Man, as an actual historian, you embarrass me. You should change your handle to “factophobic” (which autocorrect wants to make “ragtop object” – still a more fitting name than what you’re rocking based on your dogged insistence on being a pest and a contrarian).

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        Are you mad that I wondered where the adults were that should’ve been protecting her and then teased blue a little? Seriously? I worry about your heart then. Relax.

    • slystone111 - May 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      Once again, historiophiliac proves to be one of the most self-righteous, obnoxious, and thoughtless commenters on this site. Which is saying something for a site that regularly features comments from the likes of randygnyc, stlouisbaseball1, humanexcrement, largebill, and churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged.

      If you really are a working historian, historiophiliac, how do you have enough time to comment on EVERY post every day? I don’t get it.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

        I love this because it says so much about you and what you THINK I am (which is not related to what I actually am or thinking). For fun, you could count the number of posts I put comments on…and also the number that other people do too. If I stick in your craw, you should recognize that that is your problem. I am not at all worried about judging what you have to say.

      • slystone111 - May 13, 2013 at 9:20 PM

        Look at all the thumbs down, look at all the negative feedback. Is there even the slightest possibility that YOU are the problem, historiophiliac?

        This site used to be really great, but it’s really going downhill. First, as observed elsewhere today, there seems to be an obsession with the same two or three issues–SABR vs. Old School, PEDs, etc.–that get tiresome. Further, Calcaterra–whom I consider to be the lead blogger and the person who sets the tone for the site–has gotten considerably more shrill and considerably more dismissive over the past year or so. He was considerably more interested in feedback and in engaging in a meaningful way with commenters back when he was just shysterball.

        In turn, I think this has given something of a cue to the commenters. There are about 10 people–I would say three or four of them politically conservatie, and five or six politically liberal–that are unusually snide, and seem to have no interest in any opinion that disagrees with their own. (In particular, heaven forbid that anyone suggest that Joe Posnanski’s columns are anything other than manna from heaven.) In any case, I’m as liberal as they come, but even the people whose politics I agree with turn my stomach with the way they talk to other commenters. I regard you, historiophiliac, as being in this group.

        Anyhow, if you ever read this, feel free to blame me, and to say that it’s my fault, and that you are as pure as the driven snow. I am 98% sure that will be your reaction. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a look at this comment thread and think about how arrogant and uncivil your tone has become, and maybe you’ll dial it down a bit.

      • heyblueyoustink - May 13, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Sly, if I had seen this earlier, I would have trolled you for fun. So serious in your attack. And incredibly paranoid laced, much more interesting than CIAL.

        Historio, nice work keeping it clean :-)

      • slystone111 - May 13, 2013 at 11:47 PM

        News for you, heyblueyoustink: You’re another one of the obnoxious ones. And paperlions. And the others I list above.

      • tuberippin - May 14, 2013 at 1:19 AM

        Oh sweet, I’m not on the shit list.

        *quietly fist-pumps*

    • indaburg - May 13, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      When I take my young kids to the park, I sit far, far away from the trajectory of the ball, until they’re ready to fend somewhat for themselves (duck, kids!) With them now, I prefer to sit deep in the outfield, where I have time to react and have a chance at catching the ball. I’m a momma bear when it comes protecting my kids, but reaction time to some screamer foul balls just isn’t quick enough for us mere humans. I’m not judging the kid’s parents for sitting close–there is something to be said for giving your kid that experience too. I’ll try to get tickets behind the netting (fortunately, they can be had relatively cheaply at the Trop) to give them that experience until they’re older.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 7:21 PM

        Sigh, rich people problems.

      • indaburg - May 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        lol Yeah, us “rich” nurses. I got seats twenty some odd rows behind home plate–behind the net–for $25 last week. I was both happy and sad.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 8:11 PM

        Why wouldn’t you want to sit behind the netting anyway? I hope your kids appreciate how lucky they are.

      • indaburg - May 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

        If you can afford it and/or get the opportunity, it’s the way to go.

        They’re young yet–4 year old girl and 15 month old boy. I’ll make sure they know how lucky they are. I promise not to raise entitled spoiled brats. My goal as a parent is simple: as long as they’re doing what makes them happy and not assholes, I’m happy.

        When I was a kid, I got a chance to sit behind home plate, behind the netting, at Shea Stadium to watch Doc Gooden pitch. He was just a kid himself. We normally sat in the nosebleed 500 section. I KNEW how lucky I was.

      • historiophiliac - May 13, 2013 at 10:11 PM

        That’s good. We went to MiLB games on free ticket nights. :)

  2. jerze2387 - May 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    thats why youre supposed to be watching the game. Not face in the phone texting “OMG, im sitting behind the dugout, watch for me on TV while i wave!” #naturalselection

    (and why its not unreasonable for grown men to bring a glove to the game. you could always end up participating in the stands. rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it)

    • jarathen - May 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      That’s my defense for a glove. I stand a MUCH better chance of protecting my family with a device created for the sole purpose of catching baseballs than I do with my bare hands, where an excess of spin will like cause me to immediately lose my grip.

    • nbjays - May 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      I agree, I will always take my glove to the ballpark.

    • jerze2387 - May 13, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Im guessing the thumbs down are from ballpark texters lol (being from chicago, where wrigley is, i see plenty of people who are at a game but dont pay attention to a single pitch, so i can see how they dont see the foul ball coming)

  3. e5again - May 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Time to extend the nets past the dugouts!

    • 18thstreet - May 13, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Another thought: they don’t let kids sit in the exit rows at airports. They shouldn’t let kids sit in the most foul-ball prone areas of the lower sections.

      Adults who get hit in the face by a ball are to blame for not paying attention. Six-year olds who don’t pay attention are just acting their age.

      • 18thstreet - May 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Er, airplanes. Am I allowed to blame autocorrect for my own sloppiness?

      • e5again - May 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        My post is mostly sarcastic, however, I imagine the time will come when the nets are further out. I’m actually kinda surprised they aren’t already. You’d think they would be proactive and not reactive a la the NHL.

  4. Stacey - May 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    This is why I sit in the upper deck, two rows from the top.

    • gloccamorra - May 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      Have you ever met Bob Uecker?

      • Stacey - May 17, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        Heh. No.

  5. Cris E - May 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    The worst I was ever near was a young girl (who we knew wasn’t dead only because she kept screaming) in the late 80s in Boston, in one of those newfangled hundred year old parks. This is not a new problem.

    • tuberippin - May 14, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      Yeah, I don’t know why the parks were brought into this. Unless you’re really high up in the stands, the potential to get hit by a foul ball is there. I remember seeing an Indians-Yankees game when I was a kid, with my dad, my friend, and my friend’s father. One of the Indians (perhaps Ellis Burks) hit a screaming line-drive foul ball down the third base line. We were something like fifteen rows up. I still remember my dad shoving me down and hearing the ball whiz past us and hitting some guy in the side of the head.

      The danger is inherent in the spectacle.

  6. Jonny 5 - May 13, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    “I don’t feel like a lot of people who sit down low and close realize how much damage a batted baseball can do.”

    1957- One lesson taught to Alice Roth (wife of Phillies sports editor) twice in one game by Richie Ashburn. She took a line drive foul to the nose by Ashburn and while being carted off on a stretcher he fouled another off of her. Bad day I guess?

  7. RoyHobbs39 - May 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    I was in Nationals Park about six seats from the right-field pole when Adam Dunn hit what appeared to be a line drive down the first base line. It never stopped rising. I put up both hands to catch the ball/shield myself. It went right through my hands. (In a very painful manner). My hands could not stop it, but the drunk coed behind me managed to stop it with her upper lip. It was the day Michael Jackson died and her and her friends spent the afternoon discussing the King of Pop’s life and ignoring the game. The blood started flowing very quickly. Two injuries, but the severity was in keeping with how much the person was paying attention to the game.

    Oh, and Adam Dunn ended up striking out.

    (I ended up watching the replay of the foul the next day on the MASN2 replay of the game. The cameras captured everything, but the announcers focused on the man five rows down who grabbed the ricochet off the ground and gave it to his girlfriend. His girlfriend gave him a kiss. In the corner of the screen, you can see the ushers and EMTs coming down to our two rows. The TV guys are laughing about that couple. That hurt most of all.)

  8. mathieug79 - May 13, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    This should start another of Craig’s debate against grown men with baseball gloves!

    • jwbiii - May 13, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      I think the “protecting your family” argument trumps any counterargument.

  9. randygnyc - May 13, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    I was in the metrodome 15 years ago when a left handed hitter rifled a foul ball over the 3rd base dugout. It hit a young boy in the head. Security rushed and picked up his limp body revealing the boys entire white shirt covered in blood. The news reports that evening said the boy was recovering well in the hospital. That incident convinced me years later to teach my daughter to keep score at the games. It forces a person to pay attention to every pitch (unlike my wife who is so distracted it becomes a hazard)

  10. rockthered1286 - May 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Gloves are a bit of a hassle to bring to a game. For kids? Sure (although as a parent, I know that it follows suit for anything your kids take places- just another thing that I end up carrying around, or it gets lost), but I prefer to stick with a hat. I can still snag a ball headed my way, or at the very least, slow it down or deflect it. Luckily for me, my banchees can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes at a time so I opt to keep them at home to watch games with me (and they do!). And yet, I’m still not safe from getting clocked with a ball or bat. I don’t care what anybody says, a whiffle ball bat to the shin feels like a 2×4…

  11. mophatici - May 13, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    that’s my complaint with jumbotrons. they let you not watch the game. can you really see a screamer coming at you on jumbotrons? either put up hockey glass or take down the distractions.

  12. hojo20 - May 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Sounds like they had good seats.

  13. misterj167 - May 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Brian McCann put Luis Salazar eye out with a foul ball, as some of you may remember…

    http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2011/03/09/braves-minor-league-manager-injured-by-foul-ball/

    • misterj167 - May 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Luis Salazar’s

    • gloccamorra - May 13, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      And he was in the dugout. Don Zimmer got hit in the Yankees dugout too, but only got hit because Joe Torre saw it coming – and ducked.

      • Old Gator - May 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        Funny – that’s exactly the way he handles disputes with umpires.

  14. yousuxxors - May 13, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    honestly you can blink or turn your head for a second and not have enough time to react to the ball flying towards you. baseball players paying attention get hit by them. sometimes people get frozen to when they see it coming. yeah, some of the people who get hit are dumb but I think it could happen to anyone.

  15. Old Gator - May 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    I like to sit in the second deck, close to the rail, anywhere between first and third. Great view of the field, and it’s hard for anyone to propel a ball at you that lacks a pronounced arc. As for folks who sit down by the field and have to duck rocks coming at them at 100 mph, all I can say is, it beats having a formula 1 jalopy coming at you upside down and spiraling at about the same speed.

  16. mazblast - May 13, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    “I don’t feel like a lot of people who sit down low and close realize how much damage a batted baseball can do.”

    If that’s the case, then they have, in the words of the one and only Rod Stewart, “a lot more money than sense.”

    Shut up, put the cell phone away for a couple of hours (I swear you won’t die), pay attention. Know how you will react if a screaming line drive is headed for you (duck, dive, cover someone with you, attempt to catch). Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention.

  17. blancodiablo - May 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Wait, there’s a debate about guys who bring baseball gloves to the park? Everyone puts them in the same category as guys who still live with their mom and theres no debate about them being creepy.

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