Like many of you, I love bringing my family to the ballpark on a warm summer afternoon or evening. And because playing organized baseball was such an important part of my life from ages 6-18, I bring a well-worn glove and am ready to catch a ball every time the pitcher steps onto the mound. Based on how hard the pitcher is throwing, the batting count, the batter and his tendencies, plus a dozen other factors, I think I have a pretty good idea where the next ball might travel off the bat, but it’s still an educated guess.

By The Numbers

One thing, however, that is a 100 percent certainty is a good number of fans—the majority at times—are in no real position to catch a batted ball, or get out of the path of one. Of course, the popularity of smartphones and the ability to text and surf the web causes many fans to focus on their phones instead of the batter. And by the time someone yells “watch out!” it’s way too late.

According to a 2014 story by Bloomberg News, approximately 1,750 unlucky fans each year are injured (bruises, broken bones or worse) due to batted balls in major league games. And because your ticket stub states you accept the risk of being in the ballpark, lawsuits against teams are almost always unsuccessful.

Tips On How Not To Get Hit

If you go to a baseball game and know that you and your family will spend much of your time distracted by smartphones, food or people-watching, then plan to be safe by getting seats behind the netting. Or at the very least, don’t sit anywhere near the dugouts and field of play, where hard line drives make it into the crowd in a blink of the eye.

Kids are easily distracted at the ballpark, so it’s best (assuming you can catch better than they can) to sit on the home plate side of your kids. That way, you can catch or block a ball that’s headed their way.

Be especially aware if you arrive to your seats when players are still taking batting practice. Generally, a coach throwing BP (batting practice) doesn’t even wait for a foul ball to land in the seats before he throws his next pitch. As soon as you confirm that a batted ball isn’t headed your way, get your eyes back on the batter to watch for the next swing.

If at all possible, don’t bring toddlers and infants to baseball games unless you sit somewhere with virtually zero chance of encountering a batted ball. If you’re holding a small child, you can’t protect them or yourself.

Let’s play ball . . . but let’s plan to be safe, too!