Officials at Fenway Park extended the safety netting down the first and third base lines before the season began in an effort to keeps fans safer from broken bats and foul balls. While the Fenway Park netting is definitely an eye sore (for a short while), I think it’s also important for the sake of the fans.
Grumbling about the netting has been loud and clear from the Red Sox Nation. Horror writer Stephen King, a Maine native and season ticket holder, wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe about the netting: “There are questions inherent in the decision to net…Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?” While King makes a solid point about whose responsibility it is to stay safe at a game, last season saw a few injuries that show there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself of flying objects.
In a game against the Oakland Athletics last June, Oakland’s Brett Lawrie’s bat shattered on a groundout to second. Pieces of the bat flew into the third baseline seats, severely injuring a fan who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The woman sustained cuts to her face and forehead causing severe bleeding. The following month saw another woman get hurt, this time by a speeding foul ball during a game against the New York Yankees. Thankfully, both fans recovered.
Fenway Park Netting Isn’t So Bad
There’s some cases where there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself from flying projectiles. Sometimes you’re just in the line of fire and with limited mobility can be hard to get out of the way. More than once I’ve seen fans try and catch foul balls going over 100 mph with their bare hands, only to leave the game with an icepack covering their palms. This is why I always bring a baseball glove (no foul balls caught yet). But then there are those who are constantly on their cellphones taking stupid selfies and posting pictures of their $9 hot dogs to Instagram. Those are the people who really need to pay attention because they’re the ones who are most susceptible to getting knocked out by a foul like Drew Barrymore’s character in Fever Pitch.
I’ve sat behind the Fenway Park netting once or twice this season and honestly, you don’t really notice it after the first ten minutes. I’ve taken some amazing photos through the netting that hardly shows up on the photos; it’s not that thick. So while purists can yell all the want about how it takes away from the game, they should focus their anger on those who come to games only to spend the entire time taking selfies of their stupid faces for four hours.