Ron Costello

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You've heard the one about Rich Ashburn — who could foul off pitch after pitch, waiting for HIS pitch — who fouled one off that shot up behind the Phillies dugout and hit a woman in the face. As the emergency crew was taking her up the aisle on a stretcher, Ashburn fouled off another and hit her on the hip.

It's a good story — and true — to yuk up a good laugh.

But getting hit at the ballpark by a rocket off the bat is no laughing matter. In my visits to the Park, I've seen it too often. Our favorite seats are down around the plate — not behind the netting — but in and around and behind the dugouts. Great areas to watch a game.

But it's prime rocket territory.

And too often I see couples holding infants, toddlers with no idea what's going on or where they're sitting — looking for the Fanatic. Or adults texting or surfing Facebook, not paying attention. It's as dangerous as texting on the Surekill going 70.

I've also seen gargantuan popups go skyward, then come down like a bullet, get deflected, and smash skin and bone. Or fouled back off the concrete of the upper deck and come shooting down like a meteorite falling to earth. Even bats shatter and slice through the crowds at sickening speeds.

And the balls don't have to be  missiles. Once, we were sitting 3-4 rows behind the Milwaukee Brewers dugout. I was looking down and a Brewer tossed a ball to a fan sitting behind me. I felt it brush my hair and I quickly looked up. Several inches lower, it could have hit me in the eye and although it wasn't a rocket, it would've done damage — and the Brewers would've  had a nice lawsuit.

On Saturday, the Misses and I were in the nosebleed section, honoring Chestnut Hill College's President Vale, who threw out the first pitch. We were in 205, row 7, upper deck directly behind the right field foul pole.

In the first row was a family with three boys under the age of 7. Separating them from a fall and sure death was a rail maybe two feet high above the 3-foot concrete barrier. Those kids could have easily toppled over that rail. Tell you the truth, it took away from watching the game.

You saw in the news the fan in Atlanta falling to his death booing Alex Rodriguez. It was the third fatal fall at Atlanta's Turner Field since 2008, and the 24th fatal fall in a major league park since 1969.

Glad it didn't happen here, it would've added to our reputation along with booing the Easter Bunny and throwing snowballs at Santa.

But it could've easily been Philly. Four-foot plexiglass plates need to be installed in the upper deck sections throughout the park.

People shouldn't get injured or die watching a ball game.

And next season, you'll see added netting down the lines on both sides of the field. Do I want to look through netting when I've paid nearly $200 for the seats?

Truthfully, no. But it's long overdue!

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