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In a scary scene on Friday night at Tropicana Field, a Tampa Bay Rays fan was injured when they were struck by a line drive foul ball went through a gap in the netting.
The incident came in the seventh inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox. The ball traveled through a gap that was apparently made for media with cameras to view the field. Ironically, the gap appears to be in a portion of the netting that was added prior to the season at the request of Major League Baseball in an initiative to protect fans.
Here is the foul ball and the immediate reaction by Steven Souza Jr. who was clearly distraught.
The fan was eventually taken out on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. Souza, who went into the stands to check on the fans, said after the game that the fan was conscious and talking.
“She was beat up pretty good,” Souza told the media after the game (via the Tampa Bay Times). “It looked liked it caught her right in the eye, which wasn’t a good sight.”
Here is a view of the gap the ball traveled through, just seconds after the foul ball. Notice that the gap in the netting appears to be propped open very wide.
This led to some confusion among the local reporters about how wide the gap was when the ball went through. Some seemed to think that this was some bout of terrible luck.
Opening ball went through to hit fan at #Rays game is about 4-5″ wide at most. “Astronomical odds,” Souza said. pic.twitter.com/7qsnvXA9dc
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 16, 2016
Here is another report that called the odds of this happening “infinitesimal.”
Here’s the path the ball had to take to reach stands. Odds are infinitesimal. pic.twitter.com/rcAJtEeHnr
— Todd Kalas (@TampaBayTK) April 16, 2016
White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, who has been in Major League Baseball for more than 45 years said he has never seen an opening in the protective netting before.
“When you are behind the screen, I’ve never seen cutouts like that before,” said Stone during the broadcast.
His partner, Hawk Harrelson, responded, “me neither.”
No matter how wide the gap is, it is clearly wide enough for a baseball to travel through. It is also several feet tall. And while the local media appears to be suggesting that this was some sort of awful bad luck, it only took eight games for a fan to be injured.
The fan was being held at a local hospital and no further updates were available.