Baseball glamour club the New York Yankees have been slammed for a shocking lack of safety that resulted in a terrible accident.
A two-year-old girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105mph (170km/h) foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during the Major League Baseball game against Minnesota on Thursday, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.
The girl was hospitalised overnight for observation but is expected to recover, WABC-TV reported on Thursday.
"She's doing alright, just keep her in your thoughts," the victim's father told the TV station.
Players from both teams as well as umpires appeared distraught as the youngster was tended to and eventually carried from the stands.
Yankees veteran Matt Holliday was seen brushing tears from his cheeks while appearing to gesture about a protective netting. Frazier knelt and bowed his head.
After the game, Frazier and Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius both said the netting at Yankee Stadium should be extended. Twins All-Star Brian Dozier took it one step further, calling for mandatory protective netting at every MLB park.
"Either, one - you don't bring kids down there. Or number two - every stadium needs to have nets," an emotional Dozier told reporters. "That's it. I don't care about the damn view of a fan or what. It's all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach. I don't know if you guys saw it, but I hope the kid's OK. We need nets. Or don't put kids down there."
Of the 30 teams in MLB, only nine have extended netting that fully protects fans in the front rows.
Yahoo Sports MLB columnist Jeff Passan has since slammed the league for their "morally repugnant" refusal to make safety nets compulsory for every team.
"Obscene amounts of money go toward ballpark experience and ambience and amenities, and because courts of law have upheld that the disclaimer on the back of tickets indemnifies teams from balls and bats whirring into the stands, they treat safety as if it’s of no concern," Passan said.
"This is more than negligence. It is the witting abdication of moral responsibility. It is in every sense of the word shameful.
"Less than two months ago, commissioner Rob Manfred told the New York Daily News: 'I think the reluctance to do it on a league-wide basis only relates to the difficulty of having a single rule that fits 30 stadiums that obviously are not designed the same way.'"
"And if this is the perspective of the man who runs baseball – that architectural dissimilarities are a valid and reasonable excuse for two-thirds of the teams in his sport to accept the possibility of a foul ball fracturing the skull of a child in 30 places, as happened to another 6-year-old girl in Atlanta seven years ago – then no wonder teams have taken no action. The man in charge of the game’s health is willing to endanger that of his consumers.
"Baseball and the teams that continue this foolish conceit are negligent, are culpable, are to blame. Fans deserve for this shame to be a thing of the past, to walk into stadiums with netting past the dugout and well up the line, to know that in addition to being fun, their baseball experience should be as safe as reasonably possible, too."
The Yankees have thus far resisted extending their netting to the foul poles, but, according to the New York Times, they were "seriously exploring" a plan to extend the netting after a foul ball hit by slugger Aaron Judge struck a fan in the head in July.
"It's all up to the owners. I don't want to get ahead of myself and say the wrong thing," Dozier said. "But we're definitely trying to get everybody to do it. I know — Target Field being the closest to home plate, so we put up a little rule that a certain amount of distance you gotta have one. But I say put them all down, all the way down."