On September 3, 2013, I joined a couple girlfriends for what was supposed to be a fun girls’ night out at the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the Toronto Blue Jays. When we saw where our seats were, we were all excited because we thought that they were great seats! You see, we were seated just 12 rows back in the lower deck directly behind the Diamondbacks dug out. Little did we know how dangerous those seats could actually be, and how quickly our girls’ night out was going to turn bad.
In just the second inning of the game, Edward Encarnacion was up to bat, hit the ball, then let his bat go flying into the stands… right into my eye in the 12th row. I was immediately tended to by Diamondbacks staff (as shown in the pic available by clicking here) and quickly found myself in an ambulance headed to the ER. Upon examination I was told that I would need a lot of stitches and that I had a broken orbital rim, in addition to of course shattered glasses. I had no clue how much those words were going to change my life.
What most people are not aware of is that once you enter a baseball stadium, you have accepted ALL responsibility for anything that happens to you as a result of being there. You didn’t know that?? You mean, you, like the majority of those that attend a professional baseball game (myself included) have never read the miniscule print on the back of your ticket?! Click here for a blown up image that it is actually readable, or you can keep reading because here is the text from the back of the ticket.
“WARNING: The holder of this ticket (“Holder”) assumes all risk, danger and injury incident to attendance at the event, whether occurring prior to, at any time during, or after a baseball game (including, but not limited to, the danger of batted balls or thrown bats, balls or other items, and injuries caused, in whole or part, by third parties arising therefrom), and agrees that no persons or entities (including, but not limited to, Major League Baseball, its affiliates (each an “MLB Entity”), its member clubs, and their respective agents and/or players) are liable for any injury to Holder resulting from such causes and releases and holds harmless such persons and entities. Batted balls or thrown balls, bats, and other objects can enter spectator areas with great force. The risk of injury cannot be avoided completely if Holder attends the games. If holder would like to lessen the risk, the Arizona Diamondbacks (“Club”) will exchange this ticket for a ticket located in the upper deck, or in the event of a sellout, will refund Holder the face value of this ticket at any time before the first pitch is thrown. The use of abusive language, interference with play (including throwing objects in the stands or onto the field), entry to the playing field, and drunken or disorderly behavior are prohibited. Violators are subject to ejection and/or arrest.”
SO, what that means, is that even though I have no health insurance because I am a self-employed, single, homeschooling mom, and rarely have to go to a doctor, I am now responsible for all medical bills incurred as a result of a baseball player that chose not to hold onto his bat, which means that I am going into debt because I chose to attend a baseball game. And the bat hit me with such force, even 12 rows back in the stands, that I have a deep and bad break in my orbital rim, and it then bounced back and to the right in order to bruise another spectator behind me.
~A break so bad, that 6 weeks later I am still forced to cancel prior commitments due to the pain and swelling that occurs after just a couple hours on my feet, or even just being out of the house. For those of you that followed me last year as Ms. Arizona US Universal 2013, or know me personally, you know that not only does my word mean everything to me, but I am also a VERY active person, that cannot be active at this time.
~A break that may require surgery, but that means finding the money to see the specialist for follow up, in addition to the CT Scan they will have to do in order to check on the healing progress and determine if there’s a need for surgery.
~A break that requires me to eat only the softest of foods that I can take small bites of, and to limit my walking and various movement because of the fact that a broken bone in your face is irritated by just about everything you do.
~A break that, due to it’s location, does not allow me to comfortably wear my glasses, which means I have limited vision unless I choose to be in pain and wear my glasses anyways. I also experience floating flashes of light out of the corner of my eye due to the injury as the day goes on.
~A break that could cause permanent damage.
This is considered a normal and acceptable risk that you assume by attending a professional baseball game?? As I have been told over and over again the last few weeks, we teach our children in Little League that it is never acceptable to throw a bat, and depending on the league, they will be benched for the rest of the game, and possibly future games. So why is it that on the professional level, where the bats are being swung by much stronger men, therefore with much greater potential for damage, it is acceptable and NOT punished when a bat is thrown? You can Google thrown bats and find many instances, and even video, of bats going into the stands at various games. I found 3 instances in a very quick search, in the last couple months for this player alone, not including the one that hit me.
Now, let me share with you the SECOND release that you are agreeing to by entering a stadium, which is the reason that I had to link to the photo of ME above, instead of including the picture itself. I refuse to pay to use a photo of myself, that others are using to make money off of my pain and suffering.
“IMPORTANT: By use of this ticket, Holder agrees that: (a) he or she shall not transmit or aid in transmitting any information about the game to which it grants admission, including but not limited to any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction, or other information concerning the game (the “Game Information”); (b) Club is the exclusive owner of all copyrights and other proprietary rights in the game and Game information; (c) Holder’s name, likeness, and voice taken in connection with the game may be used in any broadcast, photograph, video and/or sound recording taken in connection with the game for all purposes by Club or Club’s affiliates, sponsors, corporate partners and broadcast or media partners; (d) this ticket may not be used for any advertising, promotion (including contests or sweepstakes), or other commercial purposes without the express written consent of Club; and (e) no resale of this ticket is permitted (i) via the internet or any other interactive media, except, if applicable through the official websites of Club (www.dbacks.com) or Major League Baseball (www.mlb.com), or through another website operated or expressly designated by Club or an MLB entity, and (iii) if prohibited by any applicable federal, state or local law or regulation. The license granted by this ticket is revocable and may be terminated by Club at any time.”
SO, not only are you responsible for your own medical bills if something happens to you, like it did to me, BUT they also own all rights to any photos and/or video that are taken of said incident, and they may use said photos or video in any way that they wish to. I have heard of my photo (linked to above) being circulated far and wide that night. I was being told by friends that they had even seen me on the news in various parts of Canada, since it was a Toronto player who threw their bat.
When things like this happen in other professional sports, there is often an immediate action taken to try to prevent them from happening in the future, but yet nothing is done in baseball even after the same thing happens many times. Why is that???
Here is what I feel needs to change within Major League Baseball, so that people may go back to enjoying the games with the NORMAL and ACCEPTABLE risks of watching for foul balls. Personally, the number of stories that I’ve read about children dying from being hit by a foul ball makes this unacceptable to me as well, but I understand that it is part of the tradition of the game, and one of the things that many people look forward to when attending a game.
1. I think that rules need to be changed so that players are fined, or face other equally severe consequences, for throwing bats. If the majority are able to keep them from flying into the stands, why can’t all of them??
2. I feel that there needs to be netting, or a short plexiglass, put in the area behind the dugouts where thrown bats are most likely to occur. This happened so quickly that by the time ANYONE around me saw it coming, it was already hitting me. SOMETHING needs to be done to try to prevent this from happening to other people. This would be a minimal expense for the clubs to incur in order to show their fans that they care about their safety and want to minimize some of the risks.
I don’t think that I am asking for anything that would take the fun out of the game, but would actually BRING it back! I was sitting in the seats that radio stations give away in on air contests, that people with VIPs in town would purchase to show off.
All I keep thinking is how lucky I am to still have my eyesight, and that if it had hit one of the two small children just two rows in front of me, their family would have been attending a funeral. This is a very serious matter, and one that needs to be addressed quickly.
Please feel free to share this post with your friends, family and the world. My goal is not to stop people from attending baseball games, but to educate them on the choices they are making when selecting their seats, and the current risks associated with those seats. I also truly believe that the above changes need to be made, but they won’t be unless enough people stand with me to make our voices heard!
ADDED NOTE: I have spoken to a few attorneys, and did have one send a letter to the Arizona Diamondbacks on my behalf. Because the teams are so well protected, they do not carry medical liability insurance on the stadium. There have been many that have tried to take action against teams in the past, including when death has occurred, and the courts and juries always take the side of the teams. I was only looking to get my medical paid for, and the response was no.