CLEVELAND, Ohio– The frightening image of a small child being struck by a line drive foul ball at Yankee Stadium in New York on Wednesday, is prompting a suburban Cleveland woman to renew her call for additional safety measures at ballparks across the country.
Dina Simpson of Chardon told Fox 8, “I was absolutely heartbroken, devastated, because I know the road they are facing, and for a little child to have this happen to them, that’s my biggest fear.”
Simpson, 44, says she was at Classic Park in Eastlake on May 20 watching a Lake County Captains game along with her husband and their three children.
Simpson was sitting along the third base line and was struck by a line drive foul ball traveling at more than 100 miles per hour.
“I remained conscious, and the first thing I did was scream, ‘I can’t see; I can’t see.’ My eye immediately swelled shut and there was blood everywhere,” said Simpson.
Her husband rushed her to the Cleveland Clinic, where a doctor gave her the heartbreaking news about the damage done by the foul ball. “I had a concussion, broken nose, broken orbital bone, and orbital blowout and the worst part is the trauma to my eye itself; I’m permanently blind,” said Simpson.
The general manager of the Captains says the team makes it very clear to fans that they assume the risk of injury when they attend games. Neil Stein told Fox 8, “We have stickers on the back of our seats about fan safety, about paying attention at all times. We have it on our ticket back language. We do a pregame video about rules and regulations for the ballpark and we reference it several times in that.”
In response, Dina Simpson said, “So not only do you go there and assume the risk, you leave blind if you’re lucky enough to make it out alive; you probably have on average $100,000 in medical bills and they turn the other way.”
As a result of what happened to her, Simpson has now joined a movement to force professional baseball organizations to extend protective netting at ballparks across the country.
She believes that the strong reaction to incidents like the child struck at Yankee Stadium will influence support for extending safety nets all the way to the foul poles.
The Lake County Captains maintain that they meet the safety standards set by minor-league baseball.
Still, the club says the city of Eastlake has had discussions about extending the netting at Classic Park.
According to Dina Simpson, “You make more than enough money to have it done. The people that complain that they don’t want to see the netting, it will ruin the game, this, that and the other, they’ll get over it because believe me, if it was them that got hit, they’ll change their tune.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Cincinnati Reds announced that during the off-season, they will be adding additional safety netting at their stadium. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians say they will likely discuss the issue during the off-season.