The Chicago White Sox deserve high praise for taking the initiative and inserting expanded netting from foul pole to foul pole for their Major League Baseball games. The increased protection for the fans was put in place at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, IL for the first time on Monday evening when the White Sox hosted the Miami Marlins in interleague play.
The initial reaction to the White Sox action is simply, it is about time. Baseball games can be one of the most dangerous spectator sports as baseballs regularly enter the stands. Already this season, there have been serious injuries to spectators in Chicago, Houston and Cleveland. Two injuries involved children as a two year old girl was hit by a foul ball in Houston and a three year old boy was hit by a line drive in Cleveland. Sadly, it has taken injuries for Major League Baseball to institute change.
It is the line drives where fans need to be the most alert. It is not only baseballs that enter the stands with great velocity, but baseball bats as well.
The netting at Guaranteed Rate Field will be 30 feet high above the dugouts and have a height of 45 feet down the lines according to Scott King of the Associated Press. Expanded netting has also been put in place at Nationals Park in Washington.
The Calgary Vipers of the Northern League instituted expanded netting down the lines at Foothills Stadium during action a decade ago. At the time, many avid spectators actually opposed the increased protection, arguing it interfered with their ability to watch the game. It is important that fans throughout Major League Baseball give this new initiative a chance. Safety needs to be a priority and it is excellent to see the Chicago White Sox are taking the lead.