Major League Baseball (MLB) is facing renewed questions over fan safety at its ballparks after it was revealed that a California woman died in August as a consequence of being hit in the head by a batted ball while attending a game at Dodger Stadium.
Linda Goldbloom, a mother of three and grandmother of seven, died on August 29, four days after watching a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. ESPN, citing a Los Angeles County coroner’s report, said the cause of death was an “acute intracranial hemorrhage due to history of blunt force trauma” adding that the injury occurred during the August 25 game.
The accident is said to have happened in the top of the ninth inning when a Padres batter fouled back a pitch. The ball flew into the loge level of Dodger Stadium, just over an area protected by netting, striking the 79-year-old Goldbloom on the head.
ESPN noted that there have been two previous instances of fans dying after being struck in the stands by balls that left the field of play. One such incident, involving a 14-year-old boy, occurred at Dodger Stadium in May 1970. A 32-year-old man died a day after he was hit in the head by a thrown ball in September 1943, at Griffith Stadium in Washington.
While deaths have been rare, injuries from foul balls at baseball games in the US are commonplace. ESPN notes that the fatal injury to Goldbloom came during the first season in which all 30 MLB teams had protective netting extending from behind home plate to at least the far ends of both dugouts to protect especially vulnerable sections of stadiums’ lower bowls.
This change came in the wake of a harrowing incident at a game at Yankee Stadium on September 20, 2017. A young girl suffered life-threatening injuries from a foul line drive that hit her in the face. Tickets to MLB games include a disclaimer on the back stating that fans assume the risks incidental to games when they enter ballparks.
The ‘Baseball Rule’ negates the possibility of injury claims from fans and ESPN said courts of law have generally held that as long as teams provide warnings and install netting in the areas of greatest danger, MLB has lived up to its responsibility.
MLB has yet to issue a statement on the Goldbloom incident, but the Dodgers said: “Mr. and Mrs. Goldbloom were great Dodgers fans who regularly attended games. We were deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the passing of Mrs. Goldbloom. The matter has been resolved between the Dodgers and the Goldbloom family. We cannot comment further on this matter.”
Goldbloom’s daughter, Jana Brody, told ESPN that she and her family would not comment on any agreement with the Dodgers or possible legal action. However, she expressed her hope that her mother’s death would spark renewed debate over increased protection at ballparks.
“I’d love to see the netting extended vertically, and we know it doesn’t block the view,” Brody said. “Raise it a little higher – what’s the hurt in that?”