A die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fan is calling for changes after she suffered a concussion while attending a game at the Rogers Centre last month.
Renee Tulk, 29, was on FaceTime with her father when she was hit on the side of the head by a line-drive while standing at the flight deck during batting practice before the April 30th game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’m not a medical professional and I’ve never been hit in the head before, so I didn’t know I should’ve seen someone directly after… professionals there should’ve taken it upon themselves to help,” Tulk told Global News.
”I’m a bit angry that she didn’t receive proper care,” Renee’s father, George Tulk, said. ”I was just concerned because it hit her in the head and nobody was around.”
Renee said after she was hit, she texted ‘fan assist’ and was told to walk to a security guard who then escorted her to a first aid station where she saw a nurse. She said the nurse asked her some questions, made her fill out a form, did some testing and then cleared her to leave. Renee said she was also asked by paramedics how she was felt, adding she felt fine at the time and went back to watch the rest of the game.
Renee said she suffered from painful headaches, nausea and dizziness and went to an emergency room days later where a doctor diagnosed her with a moderate concussion.
“He said I should’ve have had a choice that I should’ve seen a physician right then. The doctor did say the part of my head that I got hit on, I’m very lucky that it was that part because it is a harder part of your skull.”
Safety in baseball has been a hot button issue with some calling for improved safety measures such as netting past the dugouts.
Andy Zlotnick was hit by a foul ball in Yankee stadium in 2011.
“We pay their salaries, we’re the ones supporting the teams through thick and thin and they’re not supporting us back,” he said.
Zlotnick filed a lawsuit, but lost and now plans to appeal. Since his injury, the New Yorker has been advocating on behalf of injured fans.
Just this week, a seven-year-old boy was hit in the head by a shattered bat during a New York Yankees game. Safety measures are largely left up to individual clubs with Major League Baseball (MLB) only making recommendations.
In 2015, MLB encouraged clubs to “implement or maintain” netting to protect from “line-drive foul balls” at “all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts” and behind the dugout. It also encouraged teams to continue exploring ways to educate attendees and work with ticket sellers to identify seats are behind netting.
“The commissioner of baseball has said since December 2015 we’re going to keep an eye on this and study it and see where dust settles and they’ve done nothing since 2015,” Zlotnick said.
“They don’t require teams to put netting, they only recommend it and I think they’re sticking heads in the sand … I think it’s time that everybody acknowledges this is a reasonable safety standard, it’s not going to ruin the game.”
Nine out of 30 baseball teams have extended nets past the dugouts, but not the Toronto Blue Jays.
Although netting may not have helped Renee in this instance, she said she wants to see increased signage or possibly the placement of an usher at the flight deck.
Global News attempted to contact the Toronto Blue Jays multiple times for comment and to ask questions, but no one was available.
Meanwhile, the father and daughter said they feel the response by staff at the Rogers Centre could have been better and that someone should’ve come to Renee’s aid sooner.
”I really had to force the issue and leave a pretty angry message for the lady from fan services before I could get through … I called about six times before I could talk to somebody.” George said.
Renee said despite the experience in April, she plans to attend Friday night’s game against the Texas Rangers. She said she hopes her story will serve as a warning to others to be aware and pay attention.
With files from Nick Westoll