(Reuters) - At least three Major League Baseball teams will extend protective netting at their ballparks to prevent foul balls and broken bats from hurting spectators, a move triggered by a serious injury to a young girl at New York’s Yankee Stadium this week.
The Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres said they would install additional netting at their ball parks in time for opening day in 2018, extending protection that is currently limited to the seats directly behind home plate to the start of the team dugouts.
“We still have some details to work out, but the bottom line is expanded netting at Safeco Field is going to happen,” Mariners President Kevin Mather said in a statement.
Calls for additional protection came after a foul drive off the bat of Yankee third baseman Todd Frazier struck a toddler during Wednesday’s matchup with the Minnesota Twins.
As paramedics tended to the girl, who was seated along the third-base line, a visibly upset Frazier was seen kneeling with his head bowed.
The girl’s father said his daughter is recovering, according to media reports.
In 2015, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred requested that all 30 franchises place netting from behind home plate to the start of each team’s dugouts.
Manfred said in a statement on Thursday that the latest incident was “extremely upsetting” and that he would look at requiring further protections at all ballparks.
“Over the past few seasons MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks,” Manfred said. “In light of yesterday’s event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
Some teams have been concerned that fans would object to extended netting because it may obscure a clear view of the action on the field.
The Colorado Rockies said they would look at modifying Coors Fields in Denver, but stopped short of a full commitment, calling the issue “complex.”
“There are engineering issues to address as well as decisions about height, material type, material color, cabling, length and location,” the team said in a statement.
There has been one reported death of a fan at an MLB park resulting from an errant foul ball. In 1970, a 14-year-old boy died four days after he was hit in the head at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.
The National Hockey League mandated safety netting behind the goals at every one of the league’s rinks after a 13-year-old girl died when she was struck in the head by a puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets-Calgary Flames game in 2002.
Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; editing by Diane Craft