Foul Ball Hurts Fan At Rays Game

Foul balls are common during baseball games, but one managed to strike a fan during a game Friday between the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays.

During the seventh inning of the baseball game at Tropicana Field, Steven Souza, Jr. struck a foul ball that sped toward the netting next to the Tampa Bay dugout. Sitting in box seats, a woman appeared to be struck in the right eye as the ball slipped through the netting. The chances of such an event happening were small, given that a study was done last year that resulted in safety netting at ballparks being extended. This included an extension toward both dugouts, as well as any area within 70 feet of the home plate. Unfortunately, few could have anticipated that the foul ball would make it through the connected netting. According to USA Today, the gap was approximately the size of one and a half baseballs.

Coming off of Souza’s bat, the Rays designated hitter was concerned when he realized what had happened. When the inning was over, the game was delayed for somewhere around 10 minutes as Souza took time to converse with the injured fan.

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“It looked like it caught her right in the eye, which wasn’t a good sight,” Souza said. “I’ll be praying for her, hoping that she’s okay. She was able to talk to me, say a few things. Never a good sight to see.”

The woman received medical treatment soon after the foul ball incident, leaving the game and being wheeled by stretcher so that she could be taken to the hospital. It was said that Souza wanted to make plans to visit her during her stay in the hospital. There was visible concern and priority over the woman’s injury, evidenced by Souza’s thoughts on the matter.

“Totally unfortunate. People are more important than that game right there. That woman’s health is way more important,” Souza said. He also sent out a tweet in regard to the woman, asking that fans and readers pray for her.

“Never something I want to see happen to a fan. My heart goes out to that woman in the stands. Please all be praying for her!”

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Chris Sale, left-hander for the Chicago White Sox, also weighed in on the matter.

“That’s tough. Major League Baseball is trying to do what they can to protect fans, but that’s just a tough situation. I almost felt that when it happened. You feel so bad for the individual and her family, and just hope for the best.”

No further injury has been reported since the foul ball struck the fan through the net on Friday’s game, and she is reportedly in stable condition by word of team officials. While the chances of being injured during a baseball game have been narrowed down by the regulation of Major League Baseball, it seems that there is no 100 percent guarantee that a foul ball or other incident is out of the realm of possibility. According to the Washington Post, however, Tropicana Field personnel have fixed the netting following the incident. It remains to be seen whether or not this will be done for all ballparks, but fans can rest easy knowing that measures have been taken to prevent a foul ball from gapping the netting in the future at Tropicana Field.

Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, the game was lost and Chicago was triumphant in a 1-0 victory.

How do you feel about this incident? What measures should be taken by Major League Baseball to prevent further incidents like this? Let us know in the comments section below.

[Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images]