For the first time since Major League Baseball required the extension of foul ball nets to the ends of the dugouts before the 2018 season, individual teams have begun to take the injuries suffered by their fans seriously.
As detailed in a story I reported earlier this year, foul ball injuries can be life-threatening, lead to brain damage, or smush an eyeball like a grape:
Extending protective nets all the way down to the foul poles became a priority for a few clubs this year after a young girl was hit in the head by a baseball at the Astros’ stadium on May 29. Since then, 13 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams have announced that they will extend their nets. Those teams are the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies.
There is still no top-down requirement from Major League Baseball that would force all teams to extend their nets, meaning that many fans will go on being put at serious risk of injury.
This season, at least 16 fans were struck by a foul ball in MLB stadiums. There are certainly more fans that were hit this year, but the league doesn’t make information about such instances readily available to the public, so the only time we find out when a fan has been hit is through local media reports. Based on such reports, these are all the incidents I could find from this season:
March 31: Lily Bates, a 21-month-old girl, is struck in the head by a foul ball hit by Bryce Harper at a Phillies game. She was hospitalized, and sustained a concussion.
May 29: A three-year-old girl is hit in the head by a foul ball hit by Albert Almora Jr. at Minute Maid Park. She sustained a skull fracture, had bleeding on her brain, and seizures as a result of the hit.
Early June (date unclear): A man attending a Seattle Mariners game is hit in the head by a foul ball. He had surgery in July to remove his injured eye. He has not spoken publicly about his experience yet, but contacted Deadspin to share his story.
June 10: A woman is struck in the head by a foul ball at a White Sox-Nationals game. After this, both the Sox and the Nationals announced they would extend the netting at their parks to the foul poles.
June 14: Traci Nabors is hit by a foul ball at an Astros game, breaking her jaw in three spots and and breaking a tooth.
June 17: A young boy is hit in the head by a foul ball at the Cardinals game against the Marlins.
June 17: An older man is hit in the face by a foul ball at the Texas Rangers ballpark in a game against the Indians.
June 23: 13-year-old Kaitlyn Salazar is hit in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Cody Bellinger at the Dodgers Stadium.
June 29: A fan is hit in the ribs by a foul ball that bounced off a seat at Minute Maid park.
July 13: A woman is hit in the head by a foul ball at Fenway Park in a game versus the Dodgers.
July 14: A young girl is hit in the head by a foul ball at a Kansas City Royals game.
July 20: A three-year-old is hit by a foul ball at the Cleveland Indians game. Batter Francisco Lindor speaks out in favor of extending the nets.
July 21: A bat flies into the stands striking a White Sox fan at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.
July 27: A woman is struck in the face by a foul ball hit in the seventh inning at a Cleveland Indians game.
August 4: A woman is hit in the head by a foul ball at the Texas Rangers Ballpark.
If you were hit by a foul ball this season at a Major League baseball game and would like your injury added to this list, please email Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.