Major League Baseball announced Thursday morning that all 30 of its teams will have extended netting at their respective ballparks in 2018.
The netting, which aims to protect fans in field level seats from low-flying foul balls and broken bats, will stretch to at least the far end of each dugout, according to a press release.
“Providing baseball fans with a variety of seating options when they come to the ballpark, including seats behind protective netting, is important,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Major League Clubs are constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting and I am pleased that they are providing fans an increased inventory of protected seats.”
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The extended netting has been a key safety issue for the league in recent years, as wayward balls and bats have resulted in gruesome injuries for fans. A young girl was struck by a 105-mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium in September, two months after a similar incident at the same stadium. In other instances, like a 2015 incident at Fenway Park in Boston, shards of broken bats have flown into the crowd and led to severe injuries.
The league officially recommended extended netting prior to the 2016 season, but Manfred said in 2017 it could not unilaterally implement changes due to design variances in the 30 ballparks.
The Mets heeded the News’ call and became the 10th MLB team to add extra netting, installing it along Citi Field’s first- and third-base lines during the 2017 All-Star break.
The change also came after New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal announced the introduction of a bill that, if it became law, would force both the Mets and Yankees to extend netting all the way to each foul pole.