“Safe at home!”
That’s a welcome call for baseball fans as Major League Baseball begins its season. Even more welcome is the fact that it will also be safer down the foul lines.
The Milwaukee Brewers and clubs throughout MLB have extended protective netting this season to save fans from the broken bats and 100 mph foul balls that fly into the stands and have, too often, resulted in serious injuries.
At Miller Park, the safety nets were extended to the far ends of both dugouts by opening day last week. In the past, the netting had only extended to the near end of the dugouts.
The increased effort for ballpark safety came after the outcry when a 2-year-old girl was struck in the face by a line drive last September at Yankee Stadium as she was sitting behind the visting dugout.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who had previously urged teams to extend safety netting to the near sides of the dugouts two years ago, announced in February that all 30 major league teams would extend them to the far ends of the dugouts.
That was a good call.
Opening Day fans at Miller Park a week ago were reportedly unfazed by the net extensions with some saying they didn’t even notice it until asked about it. “It’s pretty small (in thickness),” one fan told a reporter, while another fan from DePere said she found it comforting to have the netting in place.
Some fans may gripe at missing a chance for a souvenir, but a study four years ago reported an average of 1,750 baseball fans are injured each year by foul balls and broken bats.
We’re hopeful the net extensions will reduce those numbers and fans — especially Brewers fans — can focus on safely watching the play on the field and cheering them on to win the pennant.