It’s an issue that happens all the time in baseball. Fans sitting in the front couple rows are slammed in the head by incoming foul ball. Last Sunday, James David, a six-year-old watching the Charlotte Knights take on the Durham Bulls, met a similar fate when he was struck in the head by a foul ball that flew behind third base. James was sitting in the front row behind the dug out, a common area for these kind of injuries in most games and in a split second, the ball had struck a powerful blow to the child’s skull.
After quickly being rushed out of the stands by his mother, James was admitted to the hospital for what ended up being a fractured skull and bleeding. Medics reported that they had no record of anyone transported for a traumatic injury from the ball park on Sunday. The spokesperson for the Knights confirmed that the event did happen and that they have already been in contact with the David family. Several players from the Knights have already been to see James and CMC reports that he is now in good condition.
However, the question as to how these events are to be prevented in the future remains up in the air. Dan Rajikowski, the executive vice president of the Knights and chief operating officer, stated that he will conduct an interview regarding the addition of safety netting to the stadium. Yet, the addition of a protective netting in front of areas likely to receive a foul ball his has been a controversial one for years. Most dugouts already contain nets to protect players and couches from incoming balls but fan areas directly above continue to lay unprotected.
Those in the world of baseball, who oppose these additions often state that safety nets diminish the fan experience. Yet, studies have found that a majority of fans actually support the decision and feel it would not hinder their enjoyment of the game. In Japan, another baseball loving nation, safety nets are a necessary part of the stadium layout. Fans who wish to sit in front of these nets can purchase tickets to specialized areas where they are given batting helmets and gloves to protect themselves.
For now, fans simply have to be weary of the kind of risks they take by sitting in areas prone to foul balls. Luckily, James David has managed to recover from his injury. Yet, his experience marks another example of an issue that has become just as much a part of baseball as peanuts or crackerjacks.