A woman whose mother died after being struck by a ball while watching a Major League Baseball game has urged cricket authorities to consider using netting at grounds to avoid a similar tragedy occurring in Australia. Linda Goldbloom was supporting her beloved LA Dodgers against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in 2018 when a foul ball evaded the home plate netting and struck her in the head at a ferocious pace.
The 79-year-old died four days later as a result of the head trauma caused by the flying ball. The tragedy led to Linda's family campaigning for greater safety for fans at games, with the MLB Commissioner eventually mandating all major and minor league grounds extend netting to cover a greater part of the arena.
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Linda's daughter Jana Goldbloom Brody has written a book about the incident – 'Sit Behind the Nets' (released next month on Amazon) – and talks of the impact it had on her family and the fight to better protect fans.
Although the dimensions of a cricket ground are different to that of baseball, Brody was stunned to hear cricket has no real safety measures in place despite a rising number of spectators being struck by sixes launched into the crowd this season.
A lady was hit in the head and required medical attention following a lofted straight drive into the stands from Sydney Thunder batter Alex Ross during Sunday night's Sydney Smash in the BBL. Earlier in the season, Thunder opener Alex Hales walked to the Adelaide Oval boundary to check on the health of a fan hit in the face by a six.
And Sixers skipper Moises Henriques recently talked of the "massive concerns" he had for fan safety before a game at tiny North Sydney Oval, especially with the number of "flat-hit" boundaries clearing the fence. Teammate Sean Abbott urged spectators to wear helmets to the ground and jokingly predicted a busy night for insurance companies.
Calls for safety netting at cricket games
"I am surprised to hear there is no fan safety netting at cricket games because I understand the ball is heavier (than a baseball) and can cause harm," Goldbloom Brody told Yahoo Sport Australia. "Netting is an inexpensive precaution and should be installed before anyone else gets hurt.
"No fan or player should worry that an injury may occur at a game. It's common sense, like adding seat belts to a car. Netting would prevent injuries and death. I hope the cricket associations can act quickly to protect their fans."
Lifetime Boston Red Sox fan Greg Cittadini, who spent several years in Australia, said the new safety measures introduced by the MLB had been widely supported. He told us: "There has been absolutely no blowback by fans and I can tell you from personal experience I fully back the idea.
"I have so many memories of foul balls blasting toward me...it's crazy shit. In the lower box they move very fast."
The back of every MLB ticket carries a notice warning spectators of the potential dangers "incidental to the game of baseball", which has insulated the governing body against expensive lawsuits. Asked what her message for authorities is, Goldbloom Brody replied: "I want fans to buy tickets and support their favourite team but make sure they keep their families safe.
"It should not have taken a grieving daughter to notify the press about the lack of fan safety."
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