A fan was struck in the head by a broken baseball bat during Monday’s Toronto Blue Jays exhibition game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Pam Henderson, a Nova Scotia resident and Blue Jays spring training ticket holder, was taken by ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, after suffering blunt-force trauma, per Gabe Lacques of USA Today. Her current condition is not known at this time.
According to Lacques, Henderson's husband, Bill, also was struck by the shattered bat from the Atlanta Braves' Kelly Johnson. He suffered a wrist injury, and the force of the impact shattered his watch.
Pat Wright, Bill Henderson's sister, explained the scene, per Lacques.
“There was blood running down really quick,” Wright said. “She did not lose consciousness, but she was in shock.”
Lacques explained that the Hendersons' seats down the first-base line were deep enough that they would not have been behind a net, even at an MLB game with the new safety standards:
The Hendersons were sitting down the first base line, but about nine rows deep, and in the front of the second tier of seats—an area that certainly would not have been covered by enhanced safety netting that Major League Baseball has recommended teams install after a woman was critically injured at Fenway Park last April. Their seats were roughly parallel to the first base bag.
Emergency personnel at the stadium were summoned immediately, and Henderson—her face heavily bandaged—was taken from the scene. A Dunedin Fire and Rescue EMT radioed that Henderson suffered blunt force trauma.
In December, Major League Baseball issued a statement to all 30 teams suggesting safety netting should be added to ballparks to prevent injuries, per Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com:
Clubs are encouraged to implement or maintain netting (or another effective protective screen or barrier of their choosing) that shields from line-drive foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate, inclusive of any adjacent camera wells) and within 70 feet of home plate. The Commissioner's Office has retained a consultant specializing in stadium architecture and protective netting to assist interested Clubs in implementing this recommendation.
Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said it's something he thought about the rest of the game, per Lacques.
"We're out there doing our thing, and we know it can end badly," Tulowitzki said. "It sticks with us the whole game. It does affect us. It's one of those things that's just bad luck. It seems to be happening more and more."
Fans assume risks when attending MLB games, but no one wants to see anyone leave with an injury. However, even if the league makes the netting mandatory, there is no guarantee this won't happen again—especially considering the Hendersons were well past the suggested distance—unless some kind of protective area is installed over the entire lower level.