HOUSTON — Houston Astros fans are getting their first look at the extended at Minute Maid Park, and those watching at home will notice it right behind the dugout.
The change comes about three months after a little girl was hit in the head by a foul ball.
The extended netting is knot-less and thinner, making it easier to see through. The protection extends 32 feet high and tapers off past first and third bases.
The netting can also roll up so players and fans can still interact before the games.
“It's just fun to come out here and enjoy and not have to worry about every little thing,” said fan Ronald Bartee.
Parents like Bartee have their hands full, even with all eyes on the field.
“Kids make noise, and you look down for a second to see what he's doing, and a ball comes out of nowhere,” Bartee said. “So I think (the netting) is great.”
The Astros first extended the netting dugout to dugout a couple years ago. After a series of incidents at ballparks across the U.S., the Astros are going even further.
“I love it. I wish we had implemented it before,” said fan Laura Labry. “Just because of the injuries. We were here the night the little girl got hit, and it was awful. It sent chills up your spine, and it just made you cry, and you didn't even know them. It's a simple fix.”
The netting can be raised so players can interact with fans.
“They're going to find ways to interact with our players, and we're not worried about that,” said Anita Sehgal with the Astros.
You can still find plenty of seats nowhere near the netting.
“The ball can go anywhere, so yes, we always encourage fans to be careful, watch the play of the game, watch the ball. That doesn't change,” Sehgal said.
While kids may dream of making a catch...
“You just never know,” said fan Octavio Gutierrez.
“Pay attention. I mean, pay attention. You're here to watch the ballgame, put your phone down,” Labry said.
The Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox were the first teams to extend netting which they did that during the All-Star break.
As for the family of the little girl who was hit by a ball back in May, they're glad to see the netting extended.
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