In a message to season ticket holders today, the Indians announced that they will be expanding the netting at Progressive Field. In addition, the canopy behind home plate will be removed.
As not-the-reliever Bryan Shaw notes in the tweet above, this isn’t quite foul pole to foul pole, but much further than it was. In 2019 the Indians had protective netting to the end of each dugout — section 164 down the third base line, and section 140 down the first base line.
The announcement follows a December directive from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred mandating all teams extend netting to protect fans attending games.
Last July, after a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Progressive Field, Francisco Lindor called for all teams to extend protective netting:
I encourage every MLB team to put the nets all the way down [to the foul poles]. I know it’s all about the fans’ experience of interacting with players and I completely get that. You want to have that interaction with the players, getting autographs and stuff, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure everybody comes out of this game healthy, and we got to do something about it.
The fan in question turned out to be fine, but not all fans are so lucky after they fail to dodge a 100+ mile-per-hour projectile hit directly at them. A young girl struck by a foul ball in Houston now has lasting brain damage and a lifetime risk of seizures, according to her family’s attorney. It’s a shame that had to happen before Major League Baseball decided to mandate extended netting at all ballparks, but hopefully by implementing it now it prevents a similar — or worse — occurrence from happening in the future.