The new baseball lawsuit (see entry immediately below) seeking to have the net extended from foul pole to foul pole in all MLB parks got Red to wondering about deaths from foul balls. And of course with the miracle of the internets and some people having way too much time on their hands, the answer to Red’s question was only moments away.
Sports Nut (Joe Mooallem) at Slate offers a review of a 2008 book, Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game Related Fatalities of Players, Other Personnel and Spectators in Amateur and Professional Baseball, 1862-2007 by Robert Gorman and David Weeks. One can only wonder at the motivation for creating this apparently exhaustive study which is certain to not make the NY Times Bestseller list. According to Slate, “The authors say their aim was to “raise awareness” about baseball’s many dangers, but there aren’t any recommendations for making the sport safer here, no real signs of impassioned outrage, and no warnings to suburban parents about aluminum bats.” Red isn’t exactly running out to get a copy, but the review does offer this interesting fact.
Fatal fastballs to the head, meanwhile, aren’t nearly as common as you’d expect. In the past 150 years, only one fan at a major league baseball game has been killed by a foul ball—a 14-year-old in Los Angeles named Alan Fish. The liner that fractured Fish’s skull came off the bat of Dodger pinch-hitting specialist Manny Mota, whose own teenage nephew would be killed 14 years later while playing shortstop in New York—a coincidence Gorman and Weeks don’t stop to note. Mota’s nephew, a high-schooler, was struck by lightning as he stood in the field, five minutes after the umpire announced he was going to call the game at the end of the inning.
Of course, others have been injured and some seriously by flying bats and balls, but the risk of actual death from sitting along the baselines appears to be pretty small. But if your number is up, just hope you are sitting next to this guy.