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Major League Baseball Fan Foul Ball Fatalities in Context: Soccer, Tour de France and Racing FAR More Dangerous to Fans than Foul Balls

a foulballzAfter Andy Zlotnick commented on my Twitter feed and compared baseball to the X-Games and “Reality TV”, as he did in the HBO Real Sports episode I discussed in an earlier two posts (PART I and PART II), I started to wonder if baseball really is as dangerous to spectators and players as people keep claiming. The counterargument is predicated on the idea that 1750 fans are injured every year at Major League Baseball games. That’s the number Bryant Gumbel indicated in Real Sports and it’s the number a lot of others also misrepresent. They assume that is the number of fans hit by balls and bats each season. It’s actually the number of fans injured in relation to a ball or bat. That is, fans often injure themselves going for a ball or ducking out of the way of an errant bat.

All this got me to wondering. As it turns out baseball is one of the safest for spectators and participants. With a rounded up number of 2000 fans injured in relation to a foul ball or bat, and considering one fan in 100+ years has died, I started looking at other fan fatalities in other sports.


Soccer is by far the most deadly professional sport. It has riots. Over 800 people have died over the last 20 years as a result of hatred between fans who’ve gone on to pummel one another to death after a match. Baseball fans tend to riot only when their team wins the World Series, and while a few fans have died as a result of riots, we don’t come close to 800 deaths.


Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner –  

Seeing the Seawolves: About Jerry Uht Park and Meeting Eric Brookhouser


We started our family vacation in early July by going to the Erie Seawolves game on July 2. The game, against the Akron Rubberducks, was a night game with fireworks.

I was excited to see the Seawolves. As a devout and lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, my goal in life is to see every team in the Tigers system at least once, and at their home park. Erie was on our way to Toronto for the July 7 game with the Tigers, so we popped in to Jerry Uht Park.

I’d mentioned on Twitter that I’d been attending and I discovered how absolutely phenomenal the Seawolves’ social media machine is. The person managing the team’s Twitter account “liked” and “retweeted” tweets within a few hours.

It was an amazing act that few Major League Baseball teams do. It set the tenor for what would turn out to be one of my best experiences at a Minor League or Major League baseball game.

The park is simple. It’s what one expects from a AA affiliate. No frills and every seat is a great one. But what I did notice was how prominent their signage is regarding the dangers of foul balls. Good for them!

As I usually do, I sit my family in the outfield box seats, some of the safest and closest seats to the field. Those who follow me on Twitter and read my work here are all very much aware of my 20160702_183656feelings regarding these “hero” parents who sit with their kids in the most dangerous areas and snag a foul ball while holding their kid. I practice what I preach.
I’d bought first row seats a bit closer than usual, but still in an area we could easily manage any fouls that came our way.

Once the game started, I began coaching my 9-year-old daughter on the probable locations of foul balls. One can never be too young to understand the dangers of these souvenirs. It is especially fitting since dad runs the only site dedicated to studying and discussing them.


Meeting Seawolves Superfan Eric Brookhouser



Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner –  

Foul Ball Rates: 3 Ball Rise Per MLB Game In Nearly 30 Years

Over the years there have been a number of assertions made about foul ball rates, particularly the number of foul balls hit per Major League Baseball game on average. Speculation and random ball counts have been performed, but nothing that has been in-depth all. The most recent assertion comes in the foul ball injury lawsuit Gail Payne and others filed against Major League Baseball in July 2015 and amended in October 2015.cropped-FoulBallSign1.jpg

Several lawsuits concerning foul ball injuries over the course of the last decade have cited the “fact” that there are significantly more foul balls being hit each season and that they are going much faster than 100 years ago. However, the “significant increase” is inaccurate. The data show there’s been a statistically insignificant boost in foul rates in the last 30 years.

I’ve tallied the years 2011-2014 and compared them with the years of foul balls already totaled. What we are hearing from lawyers filing suits against MLB teams is the assumption there are significantly more foul balls now than 100 years ago, 20 years ago and even 10 years ago.

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In Foul Territory: MLBs Priority should be Parental Supervision, Not Netting


Ed Comber (BBBA VP/Owner 

Follow The BBA On Twitter 

The current debate and speculation about the best way to keep baseball fans safe in foul territory at MLB and MiLB games seems to be over. Commissioner Manfred, during the 2015 Winter Meetings, announced that his office would be “encouraging” teams to extend netting another 70 feet in either direction down the foul lines in Major League parks.

The issue with this isn’t that it’s a puerile attempt at pretending to show concern for fan safety (it is). The problem is that it’s nothing more than a puerile attempt to mollify those who are calling for additional netting.

Manfred and others associated with baseball have repeated a mantra that reeks of pacification rather than true depth of caring for fans. The issue with netting is that it’s wrong. On virtually every level of rationalism imaginable.


Ed Comber (BBBA VP/Owner 

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

As I’ve pointed out in previous posts on, the general assertion that people simply don’t have time to react to a foul ball headed their way is categorically incorrect. The facts regarding average human response time are very clear and contradict the erroneous statements repeated in the media, on the diamonds, in the Commissioner’s Office, in all 30 of the front offices and by lawyers. If an adult is paying attention, they do have the time to react.


BBA State Of The Union: We Have A VP (Ed Comber) + A New 11 Person Executive Committee


Chuck Booth (BBA President) 

Follow The BBA On Twitter 

The BBA has gone over a nice makeover in the last 3 months – and I am happy to be the newly elected president for it. 

In addition to 5 years of pro blogging and owning the – I have four different world records when it comes to hitting up baseball parks.  I hold the World Record for going to all 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days during April of 2012.

I also went to a World Record 224 MLB Games in the 2015 Calendar year.  I have watched at least 5 games in all 30 MLB Parks.  (more…)

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