All 30 Major League Baseball teams will extend safety netting to protect fans from foul balls, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday in San Diego.
“I hope it goes without saying that the safety of our fans in the ballpark are of paramount concern both to Major League Baseball and to the individual clubs,” said Manfred.
The changes will be made for the 2020 season, he said. Before the 2018 season, MLB extended the netting to at least the far end of the dugout.
Now, seven clubs will have netting that goes all the way to the foul pole, he said. At 15 stadiums, the netting will go to the elbow in the outfield “where the stands begin to angle away from the field of play,” Manfred said.
The remaining eight will extend “substantially beyond the far end of the dugout,” he said.
MLB has struggled with the issue of ballpark safety in recent years as fan injuries seemed to increase. A young fan was hospitalized in 2017 after being hit by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in New York. In August 2018, a woman was fatally struck by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium in California.
According to one report, about 1,750 spectators are hurt each year by foul balls at MLB games – “a more common occurrence than a batter being hit by a pitch.”