Safety advocate continues to call for protective measures at baseball games

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Jordan Skopp, founder of Foul Ball Safety Now! campaign that urges MLB to add more safety nets at games, was troubled by what he heard coming out of negotiations between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association during the league lockout.

Or rather, by what he did not hear.

There was a lot of talk about luxury taxes, service time and various other issues during the 99-day lockdown, which ended Thursday afternoon. However, what Skopp and others in his campaign wanted to know more about was how MLB plans to protect its fans when play begins in the major and minor leagues this spring.

Skopp, a Brooklyn-based real estate agent who roots for the New York Mets, has spent years advocating for MLB to install more netting in stadiums to protect fans from serious injury from foul-hit balls. in the stands. He compiled research and attempted to contact baseball officials as well as politicians regarding the issue. Skopp is outspoken and says it’s unacceptable that MLB continues to run the risk of allowing its fans to be seriously injured by foul balls.

“You’d think the owners of Major League Baseball would say, ‘We can’t allow our employees to hit baseballs that crush baseball fans’ heads,'” Skopp told the Japan Times. “And on the other side we have the players’ union, which represents the base of all the players. Why would they allow their base to go to work knowing that one of their members, as soon as possible, could crush a baseball fan’s head?”

The problem of foul balls exploding in the stands and causing injuries is not new. Alan Fish, a 14-year-old boy, died after being hit by a foul ball while attending a game at Dodger Stadium in 1970. In 2018, Linda Goldbloom, 79, died after being hit by a ball in the same place.

There were numerous other cases of stricken fans, although no deaths were reported, in the years between these tragedies.

An investigation by the American television network NBC reported that more than 800 fans were injured by bullets during MLB games from 2012 to 2019. This report focused only on MLB, which means that it did not take into account disregard incidents at minor league parks.

Skopp, in addition to asking MLB owners, says he’s also campaigned to expand the net to underage stadium operators.

“I did a survey about a year ago around this time where I called 100 minor league ballparks,” he said. “I found out that at least 42 still don’t have nets in front of the canoes. Where are things crushed, including children? Past the end of the canoes.

In 2019, MLB announced that all 30 clubs would add more safety nets ahead of the 2020 season. Skopp, however, is not yet happy with the league’s efforts.

He has endeavored to get the word out to the public whenever he can through his campaign.

He called a press conference early last year to allow victims to tell their stories and is working on a book on the issue in which he promises more testimonies.

“The evidentiary record is getting thicker day by day,” he said.

In June 2021, Skopp rented a plane to fly around Dozer Park in Peoria, Illinois while displaying a banner that read in part, “Wake up Dozer! Nets! “, before a minor league game.

In addition to his frustration with MLB’s lack of action, Skopp also thinks members of the media should speak out.

“Nobody quit baseball or baseball writing,” he said. “I’m not saying that there are only screenwriters. It could be the broadcasters, it’s the players, it’s the owners. These are the four major groups that clearly should have spoken enough.

“They’re probably having a conversation with their family about where to sit like baseball players do.”

As Skopp followed MLB negotiations, he lamented the lack of progress made to protect fans since even before he took up the case, but vowed to continue advocating even as little was won during the case. baseball’s recent labor negotiations.

“Fifty-two years later, we’re still in the same place,” Skopp said. “Almost 52 years since Alan Fish.”

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