After a little girl was sent to the hospital when she was hit in the face by a line drive at a Yankees game, fans and players began calling on MLB teams to extend the protective netting to prevent future accidents from happening. As a response, the Yankees, Reds, Padres, and Mariners promised to add extra netting before the start of next season to keep fans safe.It’s an encouraging development and it may just help Andrew Zlotnick finally get reimbursement from the Yankees after he was hit with a rogue foul ball all the way back in 2011.
Zlotnick was at the game with his 12-year-old son and two of his son’s friends when he was struck in the face by the ball in the third inning. The damage was so severe that Zlotnick ended up having to get surgery to repair his eye socket, which ended up costing him more than $25,000. Zlotnick attempted to sue the team to get his medical expenses paid for but the case was thrown out by a judge who cited the Baseball Rule. What’s the Baseball Rule? It’s an old legal document from 1908 that prevents fans from suing teams for things like broken bats or stray balls because going to the game means you have accepted the risk of injury. Teams have been able to use the rule to protect themselves from lawsuits and many feel it’s the reason the MLB has been so slow to add protective netting.
Over the last several years, Zlotnick has worked to try and get lawmakers to reject the Baseball Rule, arguing that its an absurd preventive measure that should be replaced with better protection for fans. Now, it will be up to a New York appeals court to decide whether or not the Baseball Rule is still relevant. If it is deemed obsolete, that would be a major step for both Zlotnick getting compensated for his injury. But it would also represent a major win for baseball fans in general, as teams would no longer have an excuse to just ignore fan safety.