A’s fan sues to improve ballpark safety

A’s fan Gail Payne has a substantial bone to pick with the way the Coliseum is designed. And it doesn’t have to do with the bullpen, lack of upscale eats, or anything plumbing-related.

Payne, an A’s season ticket holder whose seats are in Section 211, above home plate on the second level, is suing Major League Baseball because of what she feels is a safety hazard, according to multiple reports.

The Oakland Coliseum’s design puts her and her family at risk due to the lack of screens between home plate and the outfield foul poles, the lawsuit alleges.

Per the San Francisco Chronicle, attorney Bob Hilliard said:

“When you have a pitch that’s thrown at 90 mph and a foul ball coming off the bat at 100 mph, you could have world-class reflexes and a catcher’s mitt in hand and you still wouldn’t be able to lift that mitt before you were hit in the head with the ball. On every level, this is a no-brainer.”

Also per the Chronicle:

According to the suit, 1,750 fans are injured each year at Major League games by flying baseballs. The peak force of a ball can exceed 8,300 pounds of force, the suit says, enough “to stop a Mini Cooper in its tracks.”

During an A’s road trip at Boston this June, one fan was put in critical condition after a maple bat swung by third baseman Brett Lawrie splintered and flew into a fan sitting near the third base line.

The incident helped place scrutiny on maple bats, known to break more often than other woods, and it’s not uncommon for bats to find their way into the stands.

The same goes for foul balls, and while most fans would likely hate the idea that they wouldn’t ever be able to take home such a souvenir, the risk for absent-minded or less-agile fans is ever-present.

Ticketholders assume the risk of injury simply by entering the stands, something written on the back of every ticket sold, but Payne is challenging baseball to do more.

The lawsuit does not request financial damages.


Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.