A recent study found that more than 800 fans had been injured by baseballs while attending a Major League Baseball game during the last eight seasons.
That number, while staggering, is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
NBC News conducted the study and did so without the cooperation of MLB and its 30 teams. Instead, the report released Tuesday was based on “lawsuits, news reports, social media postings and information from the contractors that provide first-aid stations at MLB stadiums,” according to NBC News.
The organization found 808 reports of injuries to fans from baseballs, most of which were foul balls, from 2012 to 2019. Of those incidents, 701 were reported by agencies that responded to fan injuries at four ballparks (Marlins Park, Oakland Coliseum, T-Mobile Park and Coors Field, the latter of which only had data dating back to 2014); those four agencies were the only ones that provided their records to NBC News.
That means the other 26 ballparks are largely unaccounted for in the report. Based on the numbers available, it would appear that the average MLB ballpark had around 175 fan injuries from baseballs since 2012. Multiply that by 26 and we’re talking about the possibility of more than 4,500 such injuries occurring during that timespan.
Of course, every ballpark is different, and the netting to protect fans from foul balls varies from stadium to stadium, so it’s impossible to know what the actual number of baseball injuries is.
At Dodger Stadium this summer, the netting behind home plate and along the dugouts was made 8 feet higher and extended an additional 124 feet down the baselines, following several notable incidents over the last two seasons.
In August 2018, 79-year-old Linda Goldbloom died four days after she was hit in the head by a foul ball above the netting behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. This season, a girl was hit in the head by a line drive beyond the netting down the first-base line, and a boy also was hit by a line drive at Dodger Stadium during batting practice this season.
According to NBC News, the Dodgers are one of 13 teams that either have extended the protective netting at their stadiums this year or have committed to doing so by next season.