Has a baseball ever killed a fan? The answer might surprise you.
In baseball, as in life, accidents happen.
Though most of the time these accidents result in nothing more than a few bumps and bruises, every so often they can be much more serious. In some rare cases, they can even be fatal.
So the question is: has a baseball ever killed a fan?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In May of 1970, 14-year-old Alan Fish was hit in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium and died of his injuries the following day.
Fish is believed to be the only fan in Major League history to have been killed by a foul ball, but there have been other instances of fans being seriously injured by errant balls and flying bats. In August of 2015, for example, a woman was severely injured when she was hit by a shattered bat at Fenway Park.
So while it is certainly rare, it is not impossible for a baseball to cause serious harm to a fan – even fatal harm.
The dangers of baseball
Baseball is a dangerous game. Every year, there are reports of fans being hit by flying balls or bats. In some cases, these injuries are minor, but in others they can be life-threatening. In 2014, a young girl was killed by a foul ball at a minor league game in Pennsylvania. This tragedy highlights the dangers that fans face when they attend baseball games.
In 2010, a foul ball off the bat of Tyler Houston of the Atlanta Braves killed a 14-year-old girl in the stands. The girl, Brittanie Cecil, was sitting about 20 rows up behind home plate when she was struck in the head by the ball. She died two days later.
This incident brought renewed calls for more netting to protect fans from flying baseballs. In 2018, all 30 Major League Baseball teams extended the netting at their stadiums to at least the far end of the dugouts on each side of the field.
Prior to Brittanie Cecil’s death, there had been other fatalities caused by flying baseballs in both amateur and professional games. In 1920, a 10-year-old boy named Ray Chapman died after being hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. Chapman was the only player in Major League history to die as a result of being hit by a pitch.
In recent years, there have been a number of cases where fans have been seriously injured or killed by broken bats. In 2010, a woman in California was struck in the head by a piece of a bat that broke during a Major League Baseball game, and she later died from her injuries. In 2013, another woman was hit in the head by a piece of a broken bat at an MLB game, and she too later died from her injuries. In both cases, the women were sitting in the stands behind home plate.
There have also been several other instances of fans being seriously injured by flying debris from broken bats, including a man who was hit in the face at an MLB game in 2014 and a woman who was hit in the head at an MLB game in 2015.
Although it is rare for a fan to be killed by a broken bat, it does happen on occasion. In 2008, a man attending an minor league baseball game in Pennsylvania was struck in the head by a piece of a bat that had broken during the game and he later died from his injuries.
So while it is certainly possible for a fan to be killed by a broken bat, it is not something that happens frequently.
The death of a fan
On September 7th, 1970, 14-year-old Alan Fish was at a game with his father and two brothers. A foul ball came hurtling into the stands and struck Alan in the head, causing him to bleed profusely. He died hours later in the hospital. To this day, Alan Fish is the only fan to have been killed by a foul ball at a Major League baseball game.
On July 25, 1970, a 14-year-old boy named Alan Simon was hit in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium and died the next day. He was sitting in the left-field seats, about 20 rows back from the field, when Willie Davis of the Dodgers hit a line drive into foul territory. The ball bounced off the concrete wall and into the stands, where it struck Simon on the right temple. He was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery but never regained consciousness and died the following day.
In the aftermath of the accident, the Cubs released a statement expressing their condolences to the family of the young man who had been killed. They also announced that they would be conducting a thorough investigation into the incident in order to determine what had happened and to prevent anything like it from happening again in the future.
This tragedy was a reminder of the dangers that can come with attending a baseball game, and it led to stricter safety measures being put in place at stadiums around the country. Fans are now required to stay behind protective netting when they are in seats that are close to the field of play, and more stringent safety protocols have been put in place for ballpark staff as well.
After doing some research, we have come to the conclusion that while there have been several incidents where baseballs have killed spectators, there is no definitive case of a baseball directly causing a death. However, this does not mean that baseballs can’t be deadly; in 2011, a flying bat killed a spectator in the stands, and there have been other anecdotal reports of flying debris causing serious injuries. It seems that while accidents do happen, the chances of being seriously hurt or killed by a baseball are very slim.
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