Foul ball fear growing on the Coast

Updated: Jun. 1, 2019 at 1:32 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A young fan was struck by a foul ball late Friday night as the Biloxi Shuckers battled the Tennessee Smokies. Witnesses said play was delayed about 10 minutes total and that the child’s eye was swollen shut,, but he was able to walk. The event reminded many of the incident in the Cubs and Astros game on Wednesday.

Cubs center fielder Alberto Almora Jr. pulled a line drive into the stands left of third base. The ball colliding with a young fan. She was promptly rushed out of the stadium and to a nearby hospital. Almora was clearly shaken after the incident, being consoled by teammates and even park security. Right now, there’s no update to the young fan’s condition.

This isn’t the first scary incident involving foul balls. A 2014 analysis by Bloomberg found 1,750 fans were injured each year by foul balls and broken bats. Just last year, Linda Goldbloom died after being struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium.

“I think they need to extend the net. Just look what happened at the Cub’s game the other day,” said Jeff Evans.

The incident has fans and players coming together and demanding more in regards to safety at the ballpark.

“Everybody is so big and strong now a days with the new weight training stuff. Guys throwing 100 miles an hour," said Shucker 3rd Baseman, Jake Gatewood. "So I think for the fans’ safety it is something that needs to be a priority at this point.”

Gatewood is no stranger to the controversy as he vividly remembers a fan being struck by a foul ball years ago, before he even came to play for the Shuckers.

“I was playing third base, and an old elderly woman got hit down the line. Straight in the face line drive. Blood all over the place, and you know it is tough to watch. You never want to see it because they are there trying to enjoy the game," he said.

It was a sentiment that was shared by Gatewood’s manager Mike Guerrero.

“You don’t want anyone being hurt at the ball park where you’re supposed to have good family fun,” Guerrero said.

To encourage safety, many are arguing for the foul nets to be extended all the way to the foul posts.

“It is my opinion that they probably need to go all the way down," said Tommy McKiernon. "Because some people don’t even see the balls coming at them.”

Jeff Evans agreed and vowed to never sit down by the field again after his close call.

“It was too close for comfort really. It hit the railing down by the third base line, and thank God it did because it was too fast to even try and keep an eye on,” Evans said.

Just looking around MGM Park, you could see dozens of ball marks and indentations, making it easy to imagine the pain if one struck you.

WLOX News Now learned Sunday that the young fan was taken to the emergency room and has a fractured orbital socket.

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