Pittsburgh Pirates To Make PNC Park More Safe

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates organization announced a change to their stadium.  The change will help make fans in attendance at PNC Park safer.

The Pittsburgh Pirates join a slew of other teams in trying to make the fans more safe at their baseball games.  It seems now more than ever fans are being hit by foul baseballs and suffering serious injuries.

There have been numerous fans injured just in the last few weeks, including a little girl at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  On May 29th the Chicago Cubs were playing the Astros, with Albert Almora, he roped a 100 mile per hour line drive foul ball that struck the two-year-old girl.  Reports say that the girl was hit in the head and suffered a seizure because of it.  This is just one of the many incidents that have happened this year.

Many want to blame technology.  People are on their devices now more than ever, and one can see it at the ballpark as well.  While the devices do not help, it’s still not the complete issue.  Really what it comes down to is that these are the best hitters in the world hitting a hard ball harder than one can throw it.

Statcast is one of the best new additions to baseball.  It measures everything that happens to the ball, how hard it is hit, it’s trajectory, and many other things.  Now we can see how fast baseballs are hit.  The ball that hit the little girl in Houston was around 100 miles per hour, which is fast, but not as fast as some.  The top 50 hardest hit balls this year were at least 115 miles per hour, with Giancarlo Stanton owning the fastest hit ball at 120 miles per hour.

I played baseball growing up.  I thought fastballs that were at 85 miles per hour were pretty fast and had trouble getting out of the way of inside ones.  Devices or not, a ball coming at someone at 115 miles per hour will cause a person to have trouble getting out of the way.

For instance, just last year an elderly woman at a Dodgers’ game was struck in the head with a foul ball. She ended up passing away due to a brain hemorrhage.  She was not scrolling on her phone or playing on a tablet, she was simply watching the game.  She was 79 years old, how can one expect elderly fans or toddlers being able to react quick enough to dodge belted baseball?

Because of this, baseball teams have started to announce that they will extend protective netting down the foul lines.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are joining this trend and have announced they will extend the netting sometime in the near future.  Frank Coonelly, the team president, spoke about the matter saying,

"“As we stated in 2017 when we were one of the first Major League Clubs to extend out protective netting to the ends of the dugouts, fan safety at PNC Park is of paramount importance. It is heartbreaking to see a fan injured by an object leaving the field of play at any ballpark. We have once again engaged our netting experts to reevaluate out protective netting design and to immediately develop a plan to extend the protective netting at PNC Park farther down the baselines. While we have put these efforts on a very fast track, we are committed to developing the right plan for PNC Park…”"

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This is a smart decision by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While netting will somewhat obstruct the view that PNC Park is known for, it is much more important for fans to be able to feel safe and comfortable while watching the game.