Part of a special edition series by and with writer-partners of Silicon Valley Author Ann Bridges.
By Michael Lund
Attending a baseball game can be one of life’s little pleasures for baseball enthusiasts. The smell of hot dogs and beer, coupled with the noise of venders barking their wares, encapsulates a unique experience. I for one like sitting in foul ball territory in hopes of snagging a souvenir that I can give to my grandchildren. I’ve yet to be so lucky but hope springs eternal. Fans seated in lower sections off the first and third base lines puts them close to the action and on a rare occasion, they become part of the game.
One cannot forget the poor Cubs fan who, during the NLCS game in 2003, got caught up in the excitement of trying to catch what appeared to be a foul ball but interfered with the left fielder trying to make a play. The fan’s deflection of the ball changed the outcome of the inning. He also changed the course of his life going from anonymity to a pariah. I wouldn’t wish the latter on anyone except for the high school bully who has the I.Q. of a gnat and beats up kids. It’s easy to pass judgment after the fact, but it takes more courage to admit, “You know, getting caught up in the moment, I probably would have done the same thing.”
Wanna-be jocks dream of making the spectacular catch that lands them on instant replay, the ten o’clock sports roundup and a call from a baseball scout. Keep dreaming. Better to enjoy the fantasy than mis-play a ball that bounces out of one’s glove, off the head of the person in front of you and into a beer cup. You will make the news for all the wrong reasons.
Although there are timeless moments enjoying a ballgame, sometimes humorous, there are risks that come from being in the line of fire in foul ball territory. Tragedy can be but seconds away.
The speed of a ball coming off a bat can exceed 100 MPH in many cases. A line-drive into the stands is a danger to anyone not behind the screen or sitting in seats so far out in the upper decks, one is probably closer to Mars than home plate.
Having to see or hear a fan struck by foul ball is gut-wrenching. When the victim’s injuries are so severe that they need immediate medical attention, the game doesn’t seem all that important anymore. I’d just as soon go home. And don’t think for a moment the ballplayer who unintentionally inflicted the injury, shakes it off. I can assure you they have many sleepless nights. The nightmare will live with them the rest of their lives. The Chicago White Sox are so concerned about injuries to fans, they are now installing screens all the way to the left and right foul poles.
So, here is my final missive for those seated in foul ball territory with no protection. This applies to all ballparks be it high school, college, minor league or major league:
Whenever a batter comes to the plate, NEVER EVER take your attention away from the hitter when the pitcher goes into a windup. Keep your hands free from holding food or beverage- you may need them to deflect a projectile coming at warp speed. Parents need to be especially attentive. Never have a child stand in front of you. Have them in a seat that puts you between them and the hitter. Consider this analogy — how attentive are you when crossing a busy intersection? Your eyes are fixated upon on-coming traffic, right? That same heightened awareness applies inside ballparks.