Lawsuit could force MLB to draw up new game plan

A warning sign is displayed in the stands at Fenway Park before a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics in Boston, Saturday, June 6, 2015. A woman was hit and seriously injured by a broken bat during the game on Friday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

AP

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack the stadium for Tuesday night's 86th Annual All-Star game, but as baseball continues to evolve, it seems more fans are finding themselves getting a little too close to the action.

That's prompting some critics to call for safer ballparks and more precautions, reports CBS News correspondent Don Dahler.

It was enough to make everybody cringe at Fenway Park Friday night. A foul ball rocketed straight into the stands.

MLB releases roster for All-Star Game 02:59

The line drive slammed right into Stephanie Wapenski, leaving the die-hard Sox fan with more than 30 stitches.

"I heard the crack of the bat. I saw the ball and it hit me all in such a split second I barely had time to process what was coming," Wapenski said.

Wapenski was sitting in the same area where Tonya Carpenter suffered life-threatening injuries last month after being hit by a broken bat. Days later, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was trying to find ways to make the game safer for fans.

"They include things like additional bat regulations, wrapping of bats, increased netting," Manfred said.

But attorney Bob Hilliard said the commissioner and the league have failed to act.

"You can be staring right at the batter and there's absolutely nothing you can do if that ball is coming at your head except hope that you survive and that you're not going to be killed," Hilliard said.

He filed a proposed class-action lawsuit Monday on behalf of season ticket holders calling for better safety measures including a rule requiring ballparks to "extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole."

A fan is attended to by medical staff after she was hit by a broken bat during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics in the second inning at Fenway Park June 5, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts.
A fan is attended to by medical staff after she was hit by a broken bat during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics in the second inning at Fenway Park June 5, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The lawsuit says baseball hasn't kept up with other sports like NASCAR and the National Hockey League, which ordered its teams to install increased netting more than 10 years ago after a 13-year-old girl was killed by a puck.

Each season, 53,000 foul balls find their way into the stands, injuring over 1,700 fans each year despite warning signs posted at some parks.

"I was on the other side once too and just assumed if you got hit, you must not have been paying attention. Now I know better," Wapinski said. "Sometimes these balls just come so quickly even when you're watching it as I was, it doesn't make a difference."

MLB officials insist fan safety is their number one priority.

The league released a statement Monday saying it "is in the process of re-evaluating all issues pertaining to fan safety, comfort and expectations."