4/19/2006 4:02:00 PM Walkers nervous about fly balls
You've seen them. Walkers. All over the town. This breed of humans sometimes picks up speed to jog. A few take along dogs or strollers for their kids. And they converge over the same walkway every day at the city park.
Some of you've probably seem them while attending some of the baseball games at the park, but never gave them a second thought. But they give many thoughts to the games. Every hit of the ball, a walker has to switch attention to see if they are in danger of being hit. Most times, there's not a problem, for the diamonds are sized to keep home runs to a rare occurrence.
It's not the normal games that pose a threat to them, in reality, people in the stands have a greater chance of being hit. The problem lies in the practice and fun games. These are the games that few people see, other than the walkers.
High-school-aged kids, some middle school, like playing games in under-thirteen-age fields. Imagine hitting a home run almost every time you hit the ball - for that's what they do. Now each ball flies out from the field and becomes a hazard for anyone walking along the walkway. Elderly, parents with strollers, dogs, and even average people all become potential targets for these balls.
The walkers stare at the diamonds, waiting for the pitch, getting ready to dodge the incoming ball. With each lap around the path, sometimes the ball's within your front vision, other times you have to look over your shoulder.
It's an inconvenience that shouldn't have to exist. Baseball fields exist in different sizes for a reason, and that isn't to bolster the egos of a kid. With each hit of the ball when a person's walking past, it endangers the walker, not to mention any cars parked in the parking lot or driving on the road beside it!
A simple rule that would solve the problem would be "play in the proper field" and actually enforce it with fines. Any fines could be used to add new things to the park. But it's not even the worse danger for walkers, for at least there are some trees to help soften any blows. The worst danger are the kids that play in and around the walkway, outside the fields.
Without fail, kids play baseball in and over the walkway. Normally this happens only when there's games going on in the fields. But it adds another level of danger.
Now, not only do home runs pose a danger, but all hits made. There's no fence to stop the ball, and most times the walkway is part of the ad hoc field. Imagine walking around, and knowing that at any time a ball could nail you from behind, from the left and from the right at any moment.
Actual teams know better, or are just considerate enough not to hit the balls when outside a field. They do just practice catching. And that in itself is fine and harmless. But in the area where there's shelters, a frequent occurrence is to practice catching on and over the walkway.
Most of the kids are good enough to stop when someone's passing, others don't stop but hit the target. But every so often you've got a maverick who's pitch is off target enough to almost hit the walker - or worse it was on target.
And again in the grassy parking lot, baseballs are frequently hit. There's nothing quite like the sound of a car pinball machine to really make a person cringe.
Kids to do to warm up and practice. But there's a place to do so - in the baseball fields. A few minutes of non-practice won't make or break a person's game, and there's plenty of space at the park for them to warm up without endangering the walkers. But as it is, one of these days there'll be a headline in the paper for a injured or killed dog, person, or even baby. A unfortunate victim of an accident that could be prevented with a little common sense.