Batters in Major League Baseball are hitting more foul balls than ever and that’s part of the reason there have been more injured fans, prompting the need for more netting.
A new report from NBC News show batters hit more foul balls in 2019 than in any of the previous 20 years. Average foul balls per game increased from 48.9 in 2000 to 53.8 per game in the first half of the 2019 season.
"We have digital boards giving [fans] all sorts of information, and the cadence of baseball allows you to have a conversation and doesn't require you to have 100 percent attention to what's going on in the field," Brooks Boyer, a Chicago White Sox senior vice president for sales and marketing, told NBC News, noting that it’s unrealistic for fans to be paying attention to the game at all times.
NBC obtained emergency data from four major league ballparks for its report, which found that 176 out of 193 total calls of reported injuries from baseballs could be mapped out by seat sections. They show a majority of the calls for these reported injuries occurring outside of the protective netting. The four parks that provided data offered up 701 injuries from baseballs hit into the stands.
It was way back in 2015 that MLB recommended teams extend netting all from home plate all the way down to both foul poles.
So far, a total of 13 teams have announced a further extension of netting. Six teams announced an extension this season — the White Sox, Braves, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Houston Astros. The other seven teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies — have all committed to extending their netting by the 2020 season.
NBC reports that 17 teams have not announced any plans to make additional netting extensions.