Louisville baseball teams could see changes following children’s injuries in other stadiums

Louisville Bats consider extending netting to protect fans

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Fans live for the exciting, breathtaking moments during a baseball game.

However, recently, two moments have caused serious injuries to children after foul balls were lined into the crowd.

Some fans love the chance of catching a foul ball, but what if it misses the gloves and hands and hits someone instead?

“Never think about it,” University of Louisville baseball fan Dennis Hummel said.

Hummel said he lives for the moment a ball comes his way.

“It’s no concern for me because I duck,” Hummel said.

His friend, David Leibson, said he’s not as brave.

“Those balls are coming way over 100 mph off the bat,” he said. “It’s a dangerous thing.”

Fans in Houston and Indianapolis saw the damage that speed can cause when combined with a crowd. Foul balls sent two children to hospitals over the past week, even bringing one distraught Major Leaguer to his knees.

“Sometimes when I’m not under that net, I’m like, ‘Oh God,’” young baseball fan Andrew Puszczewicz said.

Puszczewicz and his dad James love everything about the game that connects them.

“We watch for it, he brings his glove and I bring mine,” James Puszczewicz said. “We try to sit in spots where we can get a foul ball, but we really pay attention if we are.”

"(We) want fans to come and forget the world for two to three hours, not be in fear of their lives,” Louisville Bats Senior Vice President Greg Galiette said.

Galiette said changes could be on the way. He added that he’d consider following the Japanese league, extending safety nets all the way out to the foul poles.

“Players love it in case they do hit a foul ball,” Geliette said.

University of Louisville Neuroscientist Emily Sieg said extra nets are a plus.

“There’s an elusive interval, four to six hours where patients are okay,” Sieg said. “Feeling fine maybe a head, maybe concussive, then quickly reach a critical mass in their brain.”

Local fans know the risks but still love the game.

“I just block my head,” Andrew said.

The Louisville Bats extended their net over the dugout months before Major League teams did. Sieg said getting hit with a ball is rare, but at the speed of MLB, it can cause brain injuries and facial fractures.

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