Pittsburgh Pirates to extend field netting as MLB mandates better fan safety

An estimated 35 injuries occur every year per 1 million spectator visits to Major League Baseball parks. One of the most widely played incidents came in September at Yankee Stadium when a young girl was hit by a line drive off the bat of Todd Frazier.

She was carried out of the stadium on a stretcher and play was halted for several minutes while television cameras focused back and forth between the young girl and a teary-eyed Frazier, who was visibly shaken. A hard object traveling at about 85 mph can be deadly, and Major League Baseball is mandating that fans be better protected.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will spend about $100,000 out of a requested $200,000 LECOM Park improvement package paid for out of a fund to which the city contributes about $140,000 per year. The fund is part of a lease renewal negotiation that took place several years ago. The city turned maintenance of LECOM over to the Pirates in exchange for the capital improvement fund.

Many of the major league stadiums have already made the move to extend the home plate safety netting to beyond the dugouts on both the first and third base lines where many line drive foul balls tend to travel at the highest speeds directly toward fans. MLB has included in their mandate that its teams do the same for its spring training facilities.