Safeco Field joins stadiums expanding netting behind home plate
Seattle, WASH. — Several baseball stadiums around the country are promising to expand netting behind home plate by next season.
This in lieu of a little girl getting hit by a 105-mile an hour ball at a Yankees game Wednesday.
One of the stadiums planning to expand their netting is Safeco field.
First you fans at Yankee Stadium heard the crack of the bat.
Then they saw the cringe of third baseman Todd Fraizer and his teammates.
"It was terrible," said Fraizer. "Shaken up a little bit, I don't know what happened, I hope she is all right and I wish it had never happened. It was tough, tough to watch and tough to be part of, to be honest."
A 105 mph line drive soared into the stands behind the third base line and into a little girl – who was seriously injured before being carted out. She’s doing okay, but players were visibly shaken.
Some players have already prompted discussion around the league to extend the netting--something the Mariners already have in the works.
"Its all about fan safety. I mean it’s a paramount concern" said Rebecca Hale, a spokeswoman for the Seattle Mariners organization. "It's something that every major league team thinks about when you see something happen like the little girl at Yankee stadium--I mean that’s just heartbreaking and it's something that frankly anyone who works for an MLB team worries about and hopes never happens."
According to Hale the Mariners, along with 30 other MLB teams already recently expanded the netting at the start of the 2016 season six to eight feet.
The MLB commissioner says that’s no longer enough. In a press conference at Safeco Field this week, Commissioner Rob Manfred said, "It remains an ongoing discussion in the industry… We gave some guidelines two years ago, and what we have done since then is that we have encouraged the individual clubs to engage in a localized process, look at their own stadiums — every stadium's different..”
That’s the right call according to some fans attending the game Thursday night.
"We’ve seen enough baseball where these guys--they hit the ball hard off the bat, said Mariner fan Aaron Shoup, outside Homeplate Gate. "I mean when they yank it down the line--It's definitely something I think is needed."
The Seattle Mariners aren’t taking any chances on fan safety and are looking into concepts and possible design options.
Many stadiums have already proposed extending the netting to the end of the dugout.
"We've been thinking about it, talking about it, working on it for quite awhile--but you know absolutely the situation at Yankee stadium did prompt us to say 'there's no reason for us to not talk about it'."
But some fans wonder if that will take away from the fan experience.
"You know, I think it might make it a little tough," explained fan Mickey Walker a college baseball player in Lacey, WA. "You want to be close to the field and be able to see and I understand the safety aspect of it--but I think that if you're sitting that close, you know that you’re taking that risk."
Netting or not, it’s a risk Walker knows he's taking just buying a ticket.
On the back the ticket warns, "The holder voluntarily assumes all risk incident to attending a game of baseball, whether occurring before, during or after the game, including specifically (but not exclusively) the danger of being injured by bats, balls or other objects leaving the field, or by others in attendance
As of right now the Mariners still don’t have schematics or specifics on how far or how high the netting will go, but say with technology these days – it shouldn't take away from the fan experience.
As for season ticket holders, Hale said the Seattle Mariners would accommodate them with alternative seats if those fans preferred not to sit behind the extended netting.
The Mariners have not released an exact date for when the netting will be installed.