We can count on less than two hands now the number of days remaining until the start of the major league baseball season. Whether you're a fan of the New York Yankees, the New York Mets – or even the Boston Red Sox (gasp!) – this is always an exciting time of year for the faithful.
But when you go to a game this year, keep your eyes on the field and not your cellphone or other distractions. There are many inherent dangers when you go to a baseball game and with balls flying at more than 100 miles per hour, little time to react.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that a 79-year-old woman died after she was hit in the skull by a foul ball last season at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
According to a study by Bloomberg, about 1,750 people are injured by foul balls each season at major-league games. That was the case in 2017 when a 2-year-old girl with her family at Yankee Stadium was hit in the face by a foul ball traveling 105 mph. She continues to recover from her injuries: multiple skull fractures, bleeding on the brain and eye injuries.
Six years earlier, a man at Yankee Stadium was hit in the eye by a foul ball. He couldn't see it coming toward him because on a rainy evening in the Bronx, fans' umbrellas blocked his view. He has had surgery to reconstruct his eye socket.
In response to the injuries, the protective netting has been extended at many ballparks so that fewer fans run the risk of being injured. But the risk remains for thousands of fans every day.
How liable is Major League Baseball, the teams or owners of stadiums if fans are hurt? The family of the woman injured at Dodger Stadium and the team made a financial settlement. However, what is known as the "Baseball Rule" protects teams from liability in the case of a foul ball in most cases. It is a legal doctrine that also puts a burden on fans to watch closely for baseballs or even parts of shattered bats that are coming their way.
An outing to a major league game should be fun – a highlight of spring and summer. Sometimes, it ends with a serious injury, necessitating a costly, yearslong recovery. Let's hope you or a loved one never is injured at the ballpark.