Kobritz: Death at Dodgers Stadium should have been reported
Beyond the Lines
Linda Goldbloom died tragically on Aug. 29, 2018, four days after she was hit by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium.
The 79-year old Goldbloom was sitting in the Loge Level along the first-base side of home plate when a ball went over the protective netting and struck her. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died. Yet neither the Dodgers nor MLB reported the incident, which was discovered five months later from examining medical records.
The death of a fan at a ballpark is a very rare occurrence. Only three times in the 150-year history of professional baseball have spectators been killed by a flying baseball. One happened at Washington’s Griffith Stadium in 1943, the second at Dodger Stadium in 1970, and the third last August.
When contacted by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the Dodgers issued a statement which stated in part, “We were deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the passing of Mrs. Goldbloom. The matter has been resolved between the Dodgers and the Goldbloom family. We cannot comment further on this matter.” Translation: The Dodgers and Goldbloom’s family entered into a settlement and confidentiality agreement which prohibits them from commenting on the case.
The Dodgers could have reported the seriousness of Goldbloom’s injuries and her death prior to the settlement and execution of the confidentiality agreement, but chose not to. Should they have? I would argue yes, even though they had no legal duty to do so. Here’s why.
Presumably, the Dodgers didn’t divulge Goldbloom’s injuries and death for public relations purposes. After all, no team wants to inform its fans of the dangers that lurk at the ballpark, at least not prior to their arrival. Yet they all do it, in multiple forms, at the ballpark. Check the exculpatory language on your ticket back. Listen to the PA announcements before and during the game. Read the signage located around the ballpark. All are methods teams use to alert their fans to the dangers of flying bats and balls. Yet not all fans take those messages seriously, even though they should. What better way to drive home the point than to publicly acknowledge the gravity of Mrs. Goldbloom’s injuries?
The other side of the argument is Goldbloom was sitting behind the protective netting, where most fans would understandably feel safe. Despite that protection, she was struck by a ball that flew over the netting. That’s not a good look for the team. It could even be argued the incident is evidence the Dodgers should have done more to safeguard its fans – e.g., raised the netting or installed a protective covering in that area of the ballpark to protect against foul balls that make it over the netting.
One thing is certain: The course of action chosen by the Dodgers, the ostrich approach – bury your head in the sand and ignore the incident in hopes it never sees the light of day – was doomed to failure. It would have been better to act proactively and exhibit concern than appear to be secretive and insensitive later.
Jordan Kobritz is a non-practicing attorney and CPA, former Minor League Baseball team owner and current investor in MiLB teams. He is a professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog, sportsbeyondthelines.com. The opinions contained in this column are the author’s. Kobritz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.