During a recent Red Sox game at Fenway Park a woman, sitting in the expensive seats along the third base line, was struck by the business end of a broken bat. At this time she remains hospitalized in a ‘life-threatening’ condition. While I understand that being close to the action is a considerable draw for baseball fans, it is time Major League Baseball takes action to ensure fans’ safety before – fingers crossed – there is a fatality.
The National Hockey League used to have much lower glass ringing the rink. Officials regularly grabbed the top of the glass to hoist themselves out of harm’s way when players clashed along the boards. This is no longer possible as the glass is much higher and affords better protection for fans.
Then in March of 2002 Brittanie Nichole Cecil was struck by a puck while watching a game in Columbus, Ohio. She would subsequently die from the injury, the only fatality in the league’s history. But one too many.
Much like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, the NHL made it mandatory that teams install mesh netting at the ends of the rinks. Some felt this would compromise visibility, but it has become accepted, albeit too late for Brittanie.
For years the low glass and lack of mesh provided fans sitting behind the net with countless souvenir pucks. How the league went for 85 years without a fatality is a mystery to me. Imagine Bobby Hull with his banana-like curved stick and wicked slap-shot, or for that matter a man nicknamed Boom Boom, the Canadiens Bernie Geoffrion, because of the power of his slapper, having their shot tipped by an opposing player’s stick and up into the crowd.This happened literally countless times, yet miraculously without a death.
The recent incident in Boston, like all foul balls, broken bats, and lost grip flying bats, was an accident. There was certainly no intention. However MLB is intentionally not making netting mandatory, and must therefore be held accountable. I hope MLB will not wait for a fatality before considering the installation of mesh behind the dugouts. It only takes a few moments, maybe less than two innings, to get used to it. It may well save your life.