LOS ANGELES — Dodger Stadium is the only major-league venue in which a fan has been killed by a foul ball. Alan Fish, a 14-year-old sitting down the the first-base line during a May 1970 game between the Dodgers and Giants, was struck in the left temple by a ball off the bat of Manny Mota. Fish left the ballpark on his own, but died as a result of his injuries four days later.
The issue of fan safety came into sharper focus Wednesday, when a young girl was hit in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Players on the field were visibly shaken, and some have called for expanded netting to protect fans seated behind the dugouts and the base lines.
On Thursday, three teams – the Reds, Padres and Mariners – announced plans to expand netting by the beginning of next season. The Colorado Rockies said they would explore the feasibility of expanding the nets at Coors Field in the offseason.
Speaking at Dodger Stadium on Friday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he expects momentum on the issue to continue.
“An incident like we had in New York is really upsetting to everybody,” he said. “It does bring the issue to the front of everyone’s consciousness yet again. I do think you’re going to see a lot of change happen.”
The Dodgers might follow suit; already the team has discussed the idea of expanded nets internally. Currently, the only protective nets at Dodger Stadium extend from the edges of each dugout closest to home plate.
Prior to the 2016 season, the league issued recommendations for expanded netting at each ballpark. Another recommendation might need months to implement.
“It really depends from ballpark to ballpark and what’s available to hang the netting,” Manfred said. “I think people think it’s a lot easier to do than it actually is. Most cases, it involves bringing the ballpark architect in to figure out exactly how it works. It’s not a two-year job but it’s not a one-day job. Most realistically it’s an offseason job.”
RYU’S ROLE UNDECIDED
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said earlier this week that left-handed Hyun-Jin Ryu would be given a chance to finish the regular season as a reliever, to gauge his suitability in a postseason bullpen role.
Roberts appeared to backtrack on Friday. He stopped short of saying whether Ryu would start or relieve after Saturday’s start against the Giants, saying only that “a lot can happen. To make a decision right now just doesn’t seem responsible.”