This year, the varsity baseball team has been performing remarkably well. With an impressive overall record and first place finish in its league, the team is readily preparing for CCS. Players are determined to improve themselves as fielders, pitchers and hitters, doing whatever it takes to bring home the trophy. With such a talented roster, it’s no wonder that players are ripping balls out of the park. However, this becomes dangerous when these balls land within a five-foot radius of a tennis player.
Earlier in April, during the baseball team’s batting practice, the tennis team was gathering around for its team photos on the court nearest to the field. Player senior Nolan O’Such was up at bat taking pitches when he hit a ball that landed nearly five inches from our coach. Although the whole baseball team had yelled “heads up!” while the ball was in the air, that only gave the tennis team a five second window to react.
I play tennis. I’m around balls every day of the week. I get hit a lot, either accidentally or purposefully. Yet these balls are tennis balls, not baseballs.
If a ball had hit a tennis coach, one needs to consider the health consequences that are a result of a “wrong place wrong time” situation. Two years ago, a high school baseball pitcher entered a medically-induced coma after being hit with a line drive in the head. According to NBC Bay Area, the ball was traveling over 100 miles per hour.
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field in 23 years of coaching,” Marin Catholic High School coach Mike Firenzi told the Marin IJ. “I haven’t slept for the past two nights thinking about the sound.”
And this was a young, healthy high school pitcher; we have an aging tennis coach, who might not have a possibility of surviving an impact as deadly as a baseball hitting someone. With such near-death experiences, does the school really want to risk a death because of the lack of adequate protection?
Athletic director Kim Cave cannot just tell the baseball players to not hit home runs; the players are improving their swing motions, contact and timing, and with perfection of those skills comes the reward of hitting home runs.
“Our team wins titles; we have players who can hit the ball,” senior Nolan O’such said. “If the school wants safety, it needs to throw a bigger wall behind the baseball fence.”
Instead of creating another “green monster”, (the 37 foot wall in left field of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Socks) the school should invest money in adding a net to the top of the tennis court fence. This way, it will be possible for players to hit home runs without creating any potential hazard for other nearby tennis players.
Yet there are some limits to the stability of a possible net protecting the players. If a net were to be built, it would have to face the test of being sturdy enough at great heights.
Though the first two courts nearest to the baseball field are being removed due to a construction project on the school’s new two story classroom, baseball players are still hitting balls that land nearly 100 feet past the fence. That means that when these two courts will be removed due to the construction project lasting for a year and a half, balls can still be landing on the third or fourth courts.
During the construction project, the administration will be looking into a protective barrier to install for the courts.
“We’re looking for something that will suspend something higher that won’t break or fall over,” Cave said. “So it can catch those baseballs that land on courts one and two.”
The issue may become much more serious when those two courts are put back after their removal because then the baseballs will be much more of a threat to tennis players.
Even though the probability of a traumatic accident is decreased with the removal of the two, there is still a possibility. The school should not take a chance on the safety of its student population nor its staff, and install a protective barrier to prevent horrible occurrences.