The Chicago White Sox will extend Guaranteed Rate Field‘s protective netting from foul pole to foul pole, marking one of the most drastic measures yet in Major League Baseball.
There has been plenty of debate in recent years about the place of extended netting in professional baseball, particularly at the major-league level. While all 30 teams announced extended netting plans ahead of the 2018 season, calls for further protection for fans have grown since last month, when a young girl was injured by a foul ball at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
In what is effectively the first major announcement concerning protective netting changes at an MLB ballpark since that injury, the White Sox on Tuesday revealed that they will extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field from foul pole to foul pole. The club’s announcement did not include an exact timeline for when the change will take place, but it is expected to be implemented some time this summer. More from the Chicago Sun-Times:
The White Sox on Tuesday announced plans to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles as soon as possible.
As first reported by the Sun-Times, the Sox said specific details will be announced later but indicated the changes will be made this summer. The Sox will be the first of the 30 major-league teams to extend the netting to the corners of the outfield.
To protect fans from foul balls, every team extended the netting to the end of each dugout before the 2018 season. Going beyond that, however, was left up to each franchise. The Tigers have extended the netting about halfway between the dugouts and foul poles at Comerica Park in Detroit.
MLB teams have extended their netting to the far ends of both dugouts, but a few teams have previously taken it even further. The New York Yankees and San Diego Padres extended the netting farther down the line, as did the Boston Red Sox at the team’s spring-training ballpark, JetBlue Park. Now that the White Sox are implementing similar plans, expect there to be event more discussion about whether all other MLB teams should reevaluate the current netting standards at their ballparks.
It is also worth noting that any actions around MLB could have implications at the lower levels of baseball. Numerous Minor League Baseball, independent, and summer-collegiate league teams have extended protective netting at their facilities in recent years, and organizations at those levels of baseball could take a closer look at the safety measures within their ballparks.
RELATED STORIES: Manfred: I Don’t Expect In-Season Netting Changes; Calls Come for Extended Netting at MiLB Ballparks; MLB Players: We Want Extended Netting; Foul-Ball Injury Likely to Revive Issue of Ballpark Netting Rules; Manfred: Extended Netting on Tap for All MLB Teams