South Carolina baseball fans will see an extended netting system at Founders Park at the season-opening game Friday to help ensure their safety from foul balls and bats leaving the field of play.
“Your safety is a priority and one of our primary concerns,” coach Chad Holbrook wrote in a letter to Gamecocks baseball season-ticket holders. “Over the last few years, we have had several close calls and even a few minor injuries, and I feel we need to do all we can to protect our fans.”
The new system extends the netting at Founders Park on the end of both dugouts an additional 85 feet from where it was last season. It will be at the same height – 30 feet.
Holbrook said Thursday a bat hit a fan this past season and that a couple of balls have ricocheted off spectators.
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“In this day and age, with cell phones and stuff and people not paying attention every single pitch, we felt like we needed to do what we could to protect everybody that comes to our games,” he said. “You’re seeing this a lot in the major leagues now, and we felt like we needed to follow suit.”
USC is following a recommendation from Major League Baseball, which had netting extended in its stadiums before the 2016 season.
Holbrook said the new netting will not compromise the view of the playing field. “Visibility will not be a problem,” he said.
USC’s season opener
When: Friday at 4 p.m.
Who: Hosting UNC Greensboro
Special: USC will honor late longtime superfan Bill “Oot Oot” Golding at its season opener. Known for his Gamecocks helmet and chant of “Oot Oot,” the team will hold a moment of silence and ask fans to join in with a collective “Oot Oot” before the first pitch. A limited number of hardhat helmets also will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.