Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are calling for extended netting to be installed in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums after a string of high-profile incidents involving fans being hit by foul balls.
In one of the most discussed incidents, Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a foul ball that struck a 2-year-old girl at Houston’s Minute Maid Park last month. The girl suffered a fractured skull and is currently on anti-seizure medication, according to her attorney.
“Clearly, more needs to be done to put the safety of fans first,” the senators wrote in a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “Players are hitting balls with a velocity of more than 100 mph onto the field and into seating areas. A Bloomberg analysis found nearly 1,800 people annually have suffered foul-ball related injuries while attending games.”
Currently, netting is mandated to reach the ends of both dugouts, and all 30 teams are in compliance with that policy. The Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals have already announced that they will extend netting to the foul poles in their stadiums later this season, but the senators are calling for other teams to follow suit.
“We appreciate the efforts MLB and individual teams have taken so far for the safety of fans,” the senators said. “However, it is clear the current extended netting is not sufficient to protect fans from serious injury or death.”