Lakewood BlueClaws to extend safety netting along with MLB teams
Keeping in line with its Major League Baseball affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws will once again extend safety netting at their home field, to better protect spectators and staff.
The Minor League Baseball team announced Tuesday that the new netting will cover the entirety of the reserve seating sections, standing 36-feet high.
"The plan is for it to be in place by opening day, which is April 16th," Team President Joe Ricciutti told New Jersey 101.5.
Ricciutti said the team has not had any major incidents related to errant bats or foul balls "in a number of years," but fan safety remains paramount at FirstEnergy Park.
Installation is slated to begin in February. The team says the netting has 95% "see-through visibility."
"It's a relatively thin fiber, which is also coated in a field color so that it blends in well with the field," Riccuitti said.
Ahead of the 2018 season, the BlueClaws implemented an expansion that covered seats between the far end of the first base dugout and the far end of the third base dugout.
The Philadelphia Phillies, the MLB affilitate for the BlueClaws, will also extend netting ahead of the 2020 season, to cover seats down the first and third base lines at Citizens Bank Park. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, this is the team's third straight year implementing added protections.
Major League Basbeall announced in late 2019 that safety netting would be extended at all 30 MLB parks for the 2020 season.
An investigation by NBC News identified more than 800 reports of injuries to fans, including concussions and permanent vision loss, from 2012 to 2019, because of baseballs at MLB stadiums.
In July 2017, a baby was hit in the eye by a line-drive foul ball during a Sussex County Miners game at Skylands Stadium. As of Wednesday afternoon, the independent league team did not indicate to New Jersey 101.5 whether it has since upgraded protective measures at the stadium.
Netting was extended ahead of the 2018 season to reach the far ends of both dugouts at Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder, New Jersey's only other Minor League team connected to a team in the MLB.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.