A New York City Council member is calling on the Yankees to step up to the plate and install more protective netting at Yankee Stadium after a child was injured by a foul ball during Wednesday’s game against the Twins.
Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., a Democrat from Brooklyn’s 37th District and the chair of the council’s committee on consumer affairs, said in a telephone interview Thursday that it is “a no-brainer” for the Yankees to extend the netting in light of recent incidents of fans getting struck by foul balls.
“The Yankees have signaled to me it’s something they want to study, to see the logistics and how this would work in their stadium,” said Espinal, who introduced legislation in May to require New York City’s baseball stadiums to extend their protective netting and plans to hold a public hearing Oct. 25. “But I think at this point the only study that should be going on is where and when they’re going to put in the netting. I think after [Wednesday’s] experience and incident, it’s a no-brainer. We have to do more to protect our fans.”
A girl was struck by Todd Frazier’s 105-mph line drive into the stands near third base in the fifth inning of the Yankees’ 11-3 victory.
The game was halted for several minutes as the child, whose name and age have not been disclosed, was attended to by paramedics. She eventually was carried out of the seating area and transported to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital.
The girl’s father spoke briefly to reporters at the hospital Wednesday night, according to WABC-TV, saying: “She’s doing all right. Just keep her in your thoughts.”
The Yankees issued a statement Thursday that said:
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be centered around our young fan and her family. We remain in direct contact with her family and the hospital, and we will provide any and all assistance that may be necessary.”
Players from both teams crouched on the field during the delay. Some were in tears. After the game, Frazier could barely speak about the incident without his voice cracking. Several Yankees called for the netting to be extended.
In 2015, Major League Baseball announced a recommendation for teams to increase stadium netting to shield all field-level seats located between the near ends of both dugouts. Ten teams, including the Mets, did so this season. The Reds announced Thursday that they will install additional netting, extending to the end of each dugout, at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day 2018.
The Mets extended their netting to well into the outfield foul territory during the All-Star break in July. The Yankees extended their netting slightly during the offseason, but only to the very beginning of each dugout on each side.
“I believe that the Mets have done right by their fans by extending their netting and providing a safer fan experience,” Espinal said. “The Yankees, at the same time, have had conversations with me about the possibility of them doing the same. But at this point, I have not heard back on what their plans are going to be. I understand that they have concerns about preserving the fan experience, but I believe it’s more important to figure out how they can work to provide a safe experience for the fans.”
Yankees president Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost were out of the office Thursday because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
In July, after a fan was injured by Aaron Judge’s foul ball, the Yankees said they were “seriously exploring” changes to the netting. Trost told The New York Times: “We have fans that are communicating with us that they are upset that we’re even considering it.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about increased netting before the Mariners-Rangers game in Seattle Wednesday night and followed with a statement Thursday.
“The events at [Wednesday’s] game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” Manfred said in the statement. “Over the past few seasons, MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks. In light of [Wednesday’s] event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
Manfred said of increased netting: “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 — and to try to make a good decision about how far the netting should go in order to promote fan safety. If you look at what’s happened, there has been a continuous focus forward movement in terms of increased netting in stadiums around the leagues and I expect that process will continue this offseason.”