A Milwaukee Brewers fan was hospitalized Tuesday night after falling about 20 feet into the bullpen at Miller Park.
The game between the Brewers and Minnesota Twins was delayed before the start of the eighth inning as emergency personnel tended to the man who fell over the railing at the stadium's Front Row Sports Grill. The man was "conscious and alert" according to a Brewers spokesman as he was taken to a nearby hospital. Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler, who was warming up at the time of the fall, described the scary scene to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"He was on the ground before I started warming up," Kintzler said after the game. "I thought he died. We were sitting there and (bullpen catcher) Marcus (Hamel) yelled, 'Oh, gosh!' We saw the net (over the bullpen area) come flying down. I think the net caught him, then he just face-planted. He didn't move for a few minutes. I thought he was dead.
"It's not something you want to see. They're basically giving this guy CPR and I had to warm up. It was tough."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a fan has fallen at Miller Park. In 2010, a fan died after falling over a railing trying to catch foul balls during batting practice. The issue of fan falls at stadiums is one my colleague Paul Steinbach has covered extensively for AB. A year before the fatal fall in Milwaukee, Steinbach had questioned whether building codes at stadiums need to be changed.
Some ballparks have taken precautions by raising railing heights, while others have not. Globe Life Park in Arlington, formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington, the stadium raised its heights by eight inches following the death of Shannon Stone, one of three falls of 20 feet or more at that park within a span of 17 years. As Steinbach wrote in 2011: The team announced that railing heights in front of seating would be raised to 42 inches throughout the ballpark. Though too late to spare Stone, the renovation is rare, if not unprecedented, for its emphasis on fans' safety over their ability to view baseball unobstructed.
And while Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was quoted in that same story three years ago saying, "It's almost beyond comprehension to believe something like that could happen," referring to fan deaths at ballparks, it's unfortunately become all too common. Thankfully, the fan in last night's incident survived.