OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — At every baseball game there's an inherent risk involved with the possibility of a foul ball flying out and injuring a fan watching the action.
Over the last four weeks there have been two major foul ball scares at Major League Baseball stadiums, including one this past weekend at a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game. In 2018, a fan was hit during the College World Series Home Run Derby. As fans enter TD Ameritrade Park for Game Two of the CWS Championship Series, will they need to be more concerned about flying projectiles than cheering on their teams?
"We think this is something that provides a level of safety close to the home plate but also doesn't overall change or alter what the expected baseball experience is," said Kristyna Engdahl, Director of Communications at MECA.
Engdahl said in the spring of 2018 TD Ameritrade Park extended its netting by 130-percent to 84-feet down the foul line past the dugouts.
"The decision to extend the backstop netting was following suit with standards that were put in place by Major League Baseball," Engdahl said.
"The PRO-16 Dyneema backstop netting is the same found in MLB ballparks across the country and the CWS follows all MLB safety guidelines.
"A stray or foul ball can leave the field with seconds to react or duck so I think anything we can do to try to enhance fan safety while also keeping the fan experience in mind is something we're going to do," Engdahl said.
With exit velocities reaching more than 100 miles per hour off a metal bat, a foul ball to the face can have serious consequences for a fan hit.
"What you're looking at is really the kinetic energy and when you're looking at kinetic energy it's really the velocity squared so even though it's going 110 miles per hour it's that number squared so it's a lot more energy than 110 miles per hour," said Dr. Kevin Kemp, a trauma surgeon at Nebraska Medicine. Kemp said while the data is small and incidents are extremely rare, the effects of head trauma can last longer than a nine-inning outing.
"If you're talking about a mild head injury it can range from persistent headaches, nausea, vomiting and memory problems," Kemp said. "The worst-case scenario on a serious head injury would be lifelong continuous nursing care requirements."
Social media and phone usage is only increasing for fans at the ballpark. As more fans are paying more attention to to their phones and less to the games, the likelihood of fans getting hit by foul balls increases. Stadium officials urge fans to pay attention to the game, not their apps, while the ball is in play.
"When you understand that there is someone at play or there is a play happening if you could take a second and set down your phone we think it can better fan safety for everyone," Engdahl said.