CHICAGO – A 60-year-old Illinois man who says he's a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan is now imploring the team and Major League Baseball to immediately install more nets protecting fans in crowds after he was hit in the face by a ball in August, causing him to immediately go blind in one eye.
John "Jay" Loos, 60, filed a personal injury lawsuit on Monday claiming the league was negligent during the August 29 Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game, when he was hit by an errant ball and left severely injured.
Loos has since undergone several surgeries and risks also losing vision in his good right eye. His son, Adam, said he saw the ball coming and tried to shield his father – but it happened too quickly for anyone to react, he said.
"I had no idea that you were subjected to such missiles.... said Loos, whose eye was heavily bandaged. "You could be there with a mitt and you wouldn't have been able to react in time."
With the lawsuit, Loos joins a growing chorus of critics who after recent incidents to call on Major League teams to extend the safety netting farther down the lines to protect fans sitting there like the netting that protects the fans sitting behind home plate. There also was an incident last month at New York's Yankee Stadium in which a 2-year-old was struck in the face by a line drive foul ball.
"Fans are the life-blood of Major League Baseball (and) there should be nothing more important than their safety," said Loos, a resident of the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg.
After the girl was hit in New York, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB had in recent seasons worked with teams to expand netting in ballparks and would "redouble our efforts on this important issue."
Loos is seeking at least $50,000 in damages. He also urges the MLB to install netting all the way down the foul line in stadiums because he believes this will happen again.
A spokesman for the Cubs said the team had not seen the lawsuit but declined comment. Days after the child was struck in New York, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said the team would extend the netting already in place by at least 30 feet down lines. And on Monday, an attorney for Loos, Colin Dunn, said he'd contacted the Cubs and was encouraged by what they said. He declined to elaborate.
"I have talked to them and I do believe that they will do the right thing for Jay..." said Dunn, whose lawsuit seeks damages of at least $50,000. "I think they care about their fans."
Includes reporting by The Associated Press.