Debate over nets along foul lines returns after child struck by foul ball

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ST. LOUIS – Should baseball stadiums like Busch be made safer for fans? It’s a question being asked after another child was struck by a foul ball.

Baseball fans don’t like netting because it blocks a clear view of the game. Pediatricians have said we have to protect our children.

The Cardinals say fan safety is of paramount importance.

The latest incident happened Monday night at Busch Stadium when a foul ball hit a young child. The youngster was alright and after being checked out watched the rest of the game.

“For safety reasons, we’re paying $80, $90 per ticket,” said fan Andrew Dettmer. “I want to come to a came and not have to worry about getting hit by the ball.”

After a recent incident, a Major Leaguer broke down into tears after he hit a child with a foul ball.

Dr. John Peter, who has worked in the emergency room at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for more than a quarter of a century, said doctors see a child hit by a foul ball a couple times a year. One case, in particular, was especially dramatic.

“When she came in she still had the stitch marks on her scalp from where the ball came across her head; amazingly, she was fine,” he said.

The doctor said people have died after being struck by a foul ball.

“I believe we should do whatever we can to protect our children,” Dr. Peter said.

The general manager of the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Illinois showed said they have extended their netting four times in 15 years. By next season, that netting will reach almost from foul pole to foul pole.

The team owner made the decision to extend the netting after witnessing an upsetting incident.

“He watched a line drive go right at a little kid. He said we’re extending these nets. He said it’s crazy. At the time, I was a young man; I didn’t have children. I thought he was crazy,” Grizzlies general manager Steve Gomric said.

Gomric’s opinion changed when his own little girl was almost hit. At first, fans complained the netting made it tough to see the game. But not anymore.

“The netting is twice as strong, three times as strong as it used to be, and probably a quarter of the size that the netting used to be 15 years ago,” Gomric said.

The Cardinals’ netting extends from dugout to dugout. That update came before other teams back in 2017. The Cardinals ask fans to be vigilant and have signs to watch for objects leaving the field.

Fans have a responsibility to pay attention but teams distract fans with huge video screens and cellphones grab a lot of attention. It’s difficult to be glued to the game when so many other things are happening around the fans.

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