In recent years, we have seen an increase in high profile incidents where fans have been hurt by balls and bats flying into the stands as well as teams taking proactive steps to try and prevent future incidents from occurring.
Earlier this season, the White Sox, Nationals, and Pirates all announced plans to extend protective netting further down the line. The Pirates and White Sox said that they would extend netting to at or near the foul pole (the Pirates announcement was a little less than clear on that front) while the Nationals announced plans to extend their netting to a few yards past the dugout. Other teams have also been considering extending netting further down the line and now we can add the Braves to the list of teams that are going to implement such a change.
Count the Braves among the teams that are being among the most proactive with protective netting as the netting will extend all the way to the foul poles. As the Braves’ release notes, barring an unforeseen complications or delays, the installation of the protective netting will be finalized by the end of September this season.
While there is certain to be blowback from those who think that netting obscures their viewing experience at games and/or prevents them from getting their hands on foul balls and the like, the movement towards more fan safety measures has been gathering momentum for some time and seems to have wide support across the league.
The issue is one that is close to the hearts of the Braves. In 2010, a young girl was hit by a foul ball in the head at Turner Field just behind the visitor’s dugout which resulted in the girl suffering a fractured skull and injuries to her brain. The team settled a lawsuit from the girl’s family in 2017.