Sportress of Blogitude

Bloomberg study: 1,750 fans are injured by foul balls at MLB games every year

In a first-of-its-kind study, Bloomberg’s research indicates that 1,750 fans are injured at MLB ballparks every year and the report emphasizes that Major League Baseball seemingly takes a blind eye to the issue.

The report notes that the alarming amount of fans hurt by batted balls during last season exceeds the 1,536 batters who were hit by pitches during the same time span.

And while most of the occasions when a fan is hit by a foul ball doesn’t result in a serious injury, it can happen, and often to children.

The report cites the incident, among many others, that occurred earlier this season when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez rocketed a ball into the stands that injured an eight-year-old boy who had to be taken to the hospital.

The Bloomberg study cites research conducted previously that indicates Major League Baseball has its “head in the sand” when it comes to the issue of foul ball-related fan injuries, given that approximately 53,000 of the 73,000 foul balls each season are hit into the stands, according to the referenced study.

Baseball “has its head in the sand,” said Robert Gorman, co-author of 2008’s “Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities” since 1862. “If they learn there’s a problem, they’ll have to address it.”

While Major League Baseball is very concerned with fan safety, “there is no epidemic of foul ball damage yet that would warrant some sort of edict or action by the commissioner’s office,” said John McHale, the MLB executive vice president who oversees ballpark security.

The foul ball — at once both a byproduct of live play and a souvenir — is the stuff of the baseball fan’s fantasy, and nightmare. To the delight of devotees, about 53,000 of the 73,000 fouls hit each season enter the seats, according to Edward Comber, creator of foulballz.com, a website that analyzes the most likely location in each ballpark for them to land. Many spectators greet them eagerly, lunging or racing for fouls. Others want to avoid them but can’t react in time.

The report further argues that the increase in foul ball-related injuries stems from the design of newer ballparks where seating is closer to the action than in previous eras. Fans apparently are seated seven percent closer in newer ballparks than stadiums of old.

The many distractions that are prevalent at ballgames in the present era, such as explosions, loud music and the like possibly are also contributing factors to the increase in incidence of injuries.

The study recommends expanded netting as among the precautions that could be taken to help alleviate the prevalence of fan injuries.

The study is incredibly thorough and in-depth and features many more findings than those noted and laid out above, including those regarding individual incidents, as well as the conclusions drawn and recommendations made in light of said incidents. It’s well worth a read, especially if you have been in close proximity to someone getting drilled by a baseball.

Which brings up an interesting point. No matter how many safeguards Major League Baseball implements to reduce the risk of foul ball-related fan injuries, until fans start paying closer attention to the game, there’s little teams and the league can do to completely eradicate fans being hurt by foul balls.

After all, the guy in this video who is drilled by the bat of Cardinals player A.J. Pierzynski — albeit not a baseball — while not paying a shred of attention to the action on the field is sadly — and possibly tragically — more commonplace and typical than it arguably should be at the ballpark.

[H/T Hardball Talk, top image credit: Chicago Tribune]