Caught In The Nets

A photo or mock-up from Reading, showing the new netting.

A photo or mock-up from Reading, showing the new netting.

“Nets, nets, everywhere a net
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my neck
Do this, don’t do that, stay behind the nets!”

-“Signs” as it were, Five Man Electrical Band


It didn’t seem that important a month or so ago–the news that Reading would be increasing the netting at FirstEnergy Stadium in Baseballtown.  The old net there was more like chain-link fencing, very small to my eye but traditional for the Classic Ball Park.  The old net went from clock to clock in the above picture, sections 4-6.  New for 2017 the nets will extend from dugout to dugout, sections 2-8.  For me near the front of section 7 (about half way between the tunnels on the right side of the photo above, second row from the field), the chief advantage is that they’ll remove the rail and advertising, giving us a full view of the field in section 7 kinda similar to section 115 in Allentown.  Also, the new netting will be considerably thinner than the old “chain” that was in place previously.

Today, the other shoe drops in Allentown.  Yup, new thinner nets, and they’ll extend from dugout to dugout with sections 108 and 116 being the newly protected areas.  The full press release from the team is copied below.

Commentary:  I’m all for safety.  I know we’ve all got to put down the phones and pay attention to the game–even for me behind the net in 209 I’ve got to look out for top-spin fouls from left-handed batters.  I also know that even with the best attention paid to the game, it still might be impossible to get out of the way of a screamer.  We’re not all 20-year old professional athletes anymore, you know?  Still, I believe that this change in the netting will provide only the smallest modicum of improved safety.  Those additionally covered sections are at such an angle that, although they could certainly get hit by the ball or the bat, it will most likely be coming slow enough to be avoided or to not cause serious injury.  The real screamers come on top of the bullpens, or so, and until they go foul-pole to foul-pole they’re not really doing much.  Sitting in the second row in Reading, I guess my biggest fear was always the bats–a broken one or an errant one from one of those AA knuckleheads was the only thing I feared; baseballs couldn’t be hit hard enough at that angle.

Here’s today’s press release.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.



New Protective Netting Provides 33% More Visibility Than Previous Backstop


(Allentown, Pa.) – The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in accordance with recent recommendations from both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, will extend the protective netting behind home plate with a brand-new, cutting-edge product that covers all Field Level sections between the dugouts (108-116) at Coca-Cola Park for the 2017 season. The new protective netting provides additional safety and also offers 33% more visibility than the previous backstop. Formerly, only fans seated in sections 109 through 115 were stationed behind the safety net.


The new safety netting that will be installed prior to the 2017 season at Coca-Cola Park has the same visibility quotient used throughout Major League Baseball and offers the highest visibility of any backstop net on the market. The new product is 33% thinner than Coca-Cola Park’s old safety netting (1.2 mm compared to 1.8 mm) and features a knotless system for enhanced see-through visibility.


“The safety of our fans is our top priority at Coca-Cola Park,” exclaimed IronPigs President and General Manager Kurt Landes. “With that being said, our fans will be amazed at the increased visibility and enhanced sight lines afforded by this new product. Providing greater visibility and higher safety is truly a win-win.”


In addition to the new safety net attributes outlined above, the new product also has the following protective features:

  • The ability to withstand at least 316 pounds of breaking strength.
  • Strong resistance to UV light.
  • 15% stronger than steel.
  • 40% stronger than aramid fibers.
  • 95% see-through visibility.


This is the latest in a series of capital improvement projects announced in anticipation of the IronPigs’ upcoming tenth anniversary season at Coca-Cola Park. Earlier, the IronPigs announced that a series of state-of-the-art HD videoboards will be unveiled for the 2017 campaign, highlighted by an enormous 43’ x 73’ main HD videoboard that will be the largest in Minor League Baseball to incorporate a 16:9 HD aspect ratio.  The brand-new HD videoboards – supplied by industry-leader Daktronics – represent the largest capital improvement campaign in Coca-Cola Park history.


The IronPigs’ tenth anniversary season begins on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 7:05 p.m. against the Pawtucket Red Sox and is highlighted by 33 weekend games, home dates on numerous holidays including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend as well as a franchise-record 19 home games against either the Yankees’ or Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate.

See you at the parks,


Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Phillies

2 replies

  1. I had no idea the sport of baseball was such a hazard to my health. Looking back, I guess it was pretty stupid to stick my bare hands up in the air and knock down that screaming line drive off the bat of Jason Jaramillo so I could pounce on the rebound. Hell, I could have been hurt or something! Wow, with the benefit of hindsight, I now see that having IronPigs legend Andy Tracy graciously sign that ball right after a game in which he hit two home runs was an unnecessary and foolish risk that I now realize was just NOT worth taking. And that girl I gave the autographed ball to, she is genuinely just a friend — how smart was it to risk breaking bones for a chick who doesn’t even sleep with me? Not very, of course!!!

    I am so very thankful for informative articles such as this. I am all for safety, too — especially my own. I never ever stopped to consider all the dangers I deal with each and every time I come to Coca-Cola Park. Hell, I could get into a fatal car accident just coming over to the stadium! I could also be run over by the visiting team’s bus in the parking lot. And then there is all that extremely unhealthy ballpark cuisine (particularly the bacon) that the Food Nazis say will kill me if I give it half the chance.

    Holy smokes, just thinking about how blind and reckless I have been makes me scared. Anyone have one of those so-called “safe spaces” I could borrow? Some counseling on how to cope with all these clear and present dangers would probably prove to be invaluable, too.

    Then again, life is too precious, so, perhaps the only way to achieve any kind of real and lasting ‘peace of mind’ is to simply buy a lot of bubble wrap and just stay home.


  2. I sit in Section 115, an aisle seat next to Section 116. This past year, someone did hit a “screamer” that would have nailed a friend of mine had he been sitting in his seat. I know we all have to pay attention, but there are some balls — like this one — that would hit any of us, no matter our age or athletic ability. So the new netting will at least protect those fans.

    I agree, however, that this is a less than perfection solution to the problem of hard-hit foul balls and flying bat pieces. The net should really be extended all around the seating areas. (AAA players lose as many bats as AA players!) I sit behind the edge of the net and have no problem with seeing the game because the netting is so thin, so that’s no reason.

    I’ll admit, however, that extending the netting to the dugout has one negative effect: All the kids that used to get balls handed to them by players in the on-deck circle are going to be very disappointed. I’ll be disappointed too, because every so often I’d get one of them tossed to me (or my grandson).

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