WEST SACRAMENTO — Tuesday looked and sounded like any regular night around Raley Field in seasons past but now fans are watching the River Cats play under greater protection.
After last year, Tiffany McFadden has no doubt about how much that means.
“I’m second row off the field and a left-handed batter was up and just hit a smokin’ foul ball right at me. The only thing that saved me is I was sitting, I had my phone in my hand in my lap and I went like this. The ball bounced off the back of my cell phone and went up further behind me,” McFadden said.
“What we did is we extended the backstop netting about 16 feet higher and then we extended it about 60 feet further down the line,” said River Cats Communications Manager Daniel Emmons.
All the changes were designed to avoid the kind of gruesome scenes that punctuated Major League play in the last few months.
A little girl was hit May 29, collapsing the player responsible, Chicago Cubs player Albert Almora Jr., into tears.
After a woman was rushed to the hospital when a foul ball hit her in the face in June during one of their games, the White Sox became the first Major League team to stretch its protective netting from foul pole to foul pole.
The River Cats would have to go around 100 feet more in each direction to do the same with their barrier but so far, what’s there seems to be doing its job.
“It’s definitely helped a lot,” Emmons told FOX40. “We don’t see nearly as many foul balls, especially the ones that come in really hot at a high velocity that come into the stands, especially in these areas here.”
Some have complained that more netting would mean fewer autographs and other interactions with players but Nick Bryant said he still got what he was after.
“I know one time behind my seat someone got hit in the head once,” he explained.