The Washington Nationals will extend the protective netting that runs along the first and third base lines of Nationals Park, the team announced Thursday.
The announcement comes about a month after 11-year-old Adler Tollefson was struck in the face by a foul ball.
“My son just tried to put his glove right up to catch it, and … it just missed his glove, and instead of his glove it went right to his nose,” said his mother, Elizabeth Tollefson.
Blood poured out, and Adler was rushed to the hospital for treatment of a badly broken nose. A specialty doctor called it one of the worst nose injuries he’d seen in a long time.
“His nose had a couple of fractures in it, and then the septum itself was, in the surgeon’s words, completely crushed,” his mother said.
A little more than three weeks ago, a child was struck by a line drive at a Cubs-Astros game, leaving Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. distraught as the little girl was hospitalized.
Managing Principal Owner and Vice Chairman of the Nationals Mark D. Lerner cited that incident in a written statement about the netting.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums,” Lerner said. “I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive.”
The little girl struck by the ball was sitting about 10 feet past where the netting at Minute Maid Park in Houston ended.
The goal of the new netting at Nationals Park is to prevent incidents like this from occurring again. It will now extend just short of the left and right field corners.
“I think if it means that less people are going to get hurt, then it’s a really great decision,” Adler said.
“Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans,” Lerner said.
Players and executives have been calling on Major League Baseball to add more protective netting around big league fields for the past three weeks, since the incident in Houston. Netting was originally mandated by MLB in 2017, after a line drive hit a young fan at Yankee Stadium.
The new netting is designed so that certain sections over each dugout can be raised before games, so that fans and players can still interact. It will be installed at Nationals Park during the All-Star break.
Fans who have questions or who are concerned about the change can call a member of the Nationals service team at 202-675-6287, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.