SALEM, Va. – Spring is in the air in Salem, and baseball returns with the Salem Red Sox. They open the season with a four-game series against Buies Creek. From the team to the fans, everyone has a reason to be excited.
Major League Baseball mandated teams to extend netting protection in order to protect spectators, and while the minor leagues didn't have to follow suit, the Salem Red Sox decided to comply anyway. Netting at home for the Red Sox now reaches the far end of the dugout on both sides of the field. While it's been installed for safety, the Dyneema rope is only 18 millimeters in diameter, so it actually maintains good visibility. General manager Ryan Shelton tells 10 Sports it was a practical step, considering the foul balls and line drives that take place at the ballpark.
"That's absolutely something that was very important for us, for fan safety reasons, to make sure that we can keep all the fans as safe as possible," Shelton said.
"You've seen it in the major league level and teams moving the netting all the way down to the end of the dugout. Fans have been coming out to the ballpark for years and have known that it's always been some scary moments during the year, when you see a line drive going into the seats right over the dugout. So, we really wanted to eliminate that and let fans be able to enjoy the game without that without fear that there's going to be a ball coming into the stands."
Another upgrade this season has been made to the field itself. It is completely new, with fresh Kentucky blue grass and a brand new warning track. This is the first upgrade in 14 years.