FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Grizzlies are staring at a curveball they can't hit. A fan is suing the team because he got hurt while watching a game.
"Hundreds of people have baseball gloves (at those games)," legal analyst Ralph Torres said. "Why do they do that? Not necessarily just because they want a souvenir, it's because it's kind of dangerous out there."
A hot shot down the third base line can send the guys in the bullpen scrambling, or it could be a souvenir for a fan.
But during a June 2016 game at Chukchansi Park, one of the fans says a line drive foul ball came in so hot, he never saw it.
He filed a lawsuit against the Grizzlies' ownership group saying the ball hit him in the eye and caused permanent damage to his vision.
Torres says the lawsuit may not get past first base.
"It's a tough one to win because you go there understanding you could get hit," he said. "Protect yourself at all times."
The legal theory is known as "assumption of risk," meaning if you step through the gates of the ballpark, you assume the risk of anything that could happen during a baseball game, including a line drive hitting you in the face. In case you didn't think of the risk of getting hit by a ball, it's explicitly mentioned, in tiny print, on the back of your ticket.
"But on the other side, does anybody ever read that?" Torres said. "If you haven't read it, you haven't agreed to assume that risk."
Daniel Santillano's attorney said he didn't have time to talk to us, but his lawsuit says Santillano was 15 to 20 rows above third base and was distracted by concession sales and other fans.
A Bloomberg news study found 1,750 fans got hit by balls or bats every year at the major league level. That sounds like a lot, but it's less than one person per game.
In 2015, the year before Santillano's injury, baseball executives recommended teams extend their safety netting to protect fans along the foul lines.
The Grizzlies extended the netting this season, which Santillano says would've prevented his injury.
A federal judge, though, rejected a similar lawsuit in 2016. Among other reasons, she said fans could choose seats further away from the action to protect themselves.
"The closer you get to home plate the more dangerous it gets," Torres said. "People with one or two-year-olds want to be behind that net, and I'd do the same thing. Tough case to win."
Grizzlies executives were not available to talk about the lawsuit.
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