Texas Rangers

Most Texas Rangers fans appreciate new safety nets above dugout

Before Monday’s opener, Rangers fans stand behind new safety nets that rise six feet above both dugouts
Before Monday’s opener, Rangers fans stand behind new safety nets that rise six feet above both dugouts mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The additional safety netting making its debut Monday at Globe Life Park will have its detractors.

But the overall response from fans sitting in the first 20 rows behind each dugout was positive before the Rangers’ opener against the Mariners.

The netting, especially the farther back you’re sitting, is a non-issue for most. In fact, after a few minutes viewing the game from 20 rows back behind the visitor’s dugout, the netting seemingly disappears.

Of course, the closer you are, the more intense the square netting becomes, which has 40-year season ticket holder Vicki Gustafson a little disappointed.

Her seats are just a couple rows back and she’s not thrilled with the altered view.

With as many people who are getting hurt by flying bats and balls if they’re not paying attention with cellphones and stuff like that, I thought it was a really good idea. Once you’re watching the game you don’t really pay attention to it.

Waco resident Brian Gardner

“We feel like it’s blocking the interaction during the game,” said Gustafson, who acknowledge the net has its advantages. “It’s great if you have little kids out here or the elderly.”

The increased netting was mandated by the league in January to help prevent fan injuries from foul balls and accidentally thrown bats. With the proliferation of cellphones, more fans are often not always closely following the action on the field. A hard-hit foul ball can reach the stands in the blink of an eye. New signs posted throughout the stadium, including in the suite level, warn fans of “objects leaving the playing field.”

The new netting, which the league recommended teams add in front of seats at least 70 feet from home plate, was not long enough in the sixth inning Monday. Rougned Odor’s bat split apart with the bulk of it flying into the front row just beyond the photo well along the first-base line. No one was hurt just by chance.

“You don’t have to watch the game, which is a bad thing,” said Gustafson, who is from Mansfield. “We love the Rangers. We’re diehard fans, but we don’t think it’s necessary.”

We feel like it’s blocking the interaction during the game. It’s great if you have little kids out here or the elderly.

Vicki Gustafson, a 40-year season ticket holder

Irving resident Larry Clarkston has been using his company’s season tickets for the past 10 years. He’s fartherfurther back behind the dugout and appreciates the safety.

Diane Streat took her children and grandchildren to Rangers Opening Day games for nearly 20 years. With her recent passing, her daughter, Glynnis, is determined to continue the family tradition in her honor.

“We’re glad to have it because it makes us feel more protected here,” he said.

Same goes for Mark Thompson, a resident of Fairview, which is just north of Allen.

“If it keeps the ball out of my teeth it’s OK,” said Thompson, a season ticket holder for the past six years. “It’s not a problem at all.”

Waco residents Brian and Katrina Gardner, who were sitting several rows back from the third base dugout, thought it was a good idea since January.

“With as many people who are getting hurt by flying bats and balls, if they’re not paying attention with cellphones and stuff like that, I thought it was a really good idea,” Brian Gardner said. “Once you’re watching the game you don’t really pay attention to it.”

Plus, he added, when you’re sitting as close to the action as they were for Monday’s opener, the chances of catching a ball safely are slim.

“It’s going to bounce off your head first,” he said.

Hopefully, with the increased safety measures, not anymore.

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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