White Sox to become 1st MLB team to extend netting to foul poles
The Chicago White Sox are taking a big step forward to ensure fans are safe during games.
In coordination with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the White Sox announced Tuesday they plan to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to the foul poles, according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Changes are expected to be made "as soon as possible," although no specific plans for how the netting will look were detailed by the team, according to James Fegan of The Athletic.
The White Sox would become the first MLB team to extend their home ballpark's protective netting in such a manner.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers confirmed in May that they plan to do the same in 2020 when their new home, Globe Life Field, opens.
Calls for extended netting increased when a 4-year-old girl was struck by a foul ball at Minute Maid Park on May 29 during a game between the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs.
As for Guaranteed Rate Field, a woman was taken to hospital after being hit by a foul ball at a White Sox game on June 10.
Both incidents could have been avoided if the extended netting was in place, Van Schouwen notes.
"In today's day and age, you have a lot of young fans, and guys are hitting the ball harder," White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito told reporters Tuesday, according to Fegan. "I see the counterarguments like, 'Don't sit there,' or, 'Just pay attention to the game.' Dude, no matter how much you're paying attention to the game, if that thing's coming in 115 mph with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead.
"For me, being around baseball for so long, I think it's a smart move because it just keeps people safe. I hate seeing young kids get hit, having to go to the hospital. It just leaves a sick feeling in all of our stomachs."
All 30 MLB teams extended the protective netting to the end of their dugouts before the 2018 season.