Watching a baseball game will be safer in all major league ballparks during the 2018 season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays announced on Wednesday they would extend the protective netting behind the dugouts in their ballparks in time for opening day, meaning all 30 teams have decided to exceed the recommendations for enhanced safety issued by Commissioner Rob Manfred in December 2015.
The announcement came a day before Manfred was expected to issue a mandate at baseball’s quarterly owners meetings in Los Angeles that all teams must extend their netting to at least the far end of the dugouts by the beginning of the coming season.
“Providing baseball fans with a variety of seating options when they come to the ballpark, including seats behind protective netting, is important,” Manfred said in a statement. “Major League Clubs are constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting and I am pleased that they are providing fans an increased inventory of protected seats.”
A league spokesman said the announcements by the Diamondbacks and the Rays on Wednesday rendered a commissioner’s mandate unnecessary.
Major League Baseball’s previous recommendation in 2015, calling for all teams to extend their netting from the area behind home plate to the beginning of each dugout, came in response to a serious head injury sustained by a fan at Fenway Park.
The movement to extend the netting further down the foul lines gained momentum when three fans were seriously injured at Yankee Stadium during the 2017 season.