NEW YORK – They carried a little girl out of Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. She left in an adult’s arms.
“Knocked out cold,” Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. “The blood. … I just hope the kid’s OK.”
In her field-level seat on the third-base side, she was struck in the face by a line drive in the fifth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and Twins. The Yankees released a statement saying the girl was treated at the stadium and then taken to a nearby hospital. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said later that the girl was, “doing OK.”
The protective netting at Yankee Stadium stops short of the dugouts on both sides. If the design technically satisfies Major League Baseball’s 2016 mandate that clubs add netting to safeguard their customers from airborne bats and balls, it is inadequate as compared to many other ballparks and, on Wednesday, for one of their fans seated within shouting distance of third base. The Mets, for one, this season extended the netting at Citi Field well beyond the far ends of the dugouts. Other teams have taken the same precaution, not because they were ordered to, but because their fans were at risk.
In the fifth inning Wednesday, Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier lined a ball past the third-base dugout and into the seats. The ball left the bat at 106 mph. The crowd groaned, and people near the girl began frantically waving for medical personnel. Joe Espada, the Yankees’ third-base coach, rushed to the wall. Frazier knelt and bowed his head. Gary Cederstrom, the plate umpire, turned away. At second base, Dozier and Yankees baserunner Matt Holliday stood together and, according to Dozier, prayed for the little girl who’d been struck. At third base, Eduardo Escobar dabbed at his eyes. In the stands, people stood with their hands on their heads, or over their mouths.
“I just saw blood coming out of this poor girl’s face,” Escobar said through a translator. “I have kids.”
Many coaches and players urged the clubs and the league to install more netting at Yankee Stadium and other ballparks. The teams that have resisted generally cite the wishes of their season-ticket holders, who prefer the cleaner sightlines potentially lost in the netting.
“Every stadium needs to have nets,” Dozier said. “That’s it. I don’t care about the damn view of the fan. It’s all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach. I hope that kid’s OK. We need nets. Or don’t put kids down there.”
Said Frazier: “Yeah, I think the netting should be up. I think every stadium should have it. But we’re not at that point yet. Hopefully they’ll take a look at all this and figure something out.”
Escobar pleaded for fans, in the meantime, to remain focused on the game, to protect their children or to sit in safer areas of the ballpark.
“A ball like that,” he said, “can kill a kid. … It could’ve killed her.”
The Yankees declined comment, other than to say the girl had received treatment.
“It stops you in your tracks,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s a little perspective.”
As reporters filed from his office, Molitor called after them, “Hey, is she OK?”
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