Calcaterra: Baseball violence has always been a low-tech affair

From Craig Calcaterra at The National Pastime Museum on October 23, 2016:

Beginning in 2015, something new came to every Major League ballpark: metal detectors. A handful of parks had them the year before, but in one of his last acts as commissioner, Bud Selig ordered every team to either install walk-through metal detectors or place security staff with wands at every gate. Most teams purchased and installed airport-style, walk-through gates, which required each fan to empty his or her pockets into plastic bins, walk through, recollect, and then, finally, head in to see the old ball game.

The reasons for the metal detectors are somewhat murky. There have been no terrorist threats or acts at Major League ballparks. No one has come in and pulled a knife or a gun or has otherwise done anything that the presence of a metal detector would’ve prevented. While all of America has hunkered down and jacked up security since 9/11, it is unclear why Major League Baseball took these measures or why it took them in 2015 as opposed to 14 years before. Whatever the impetus for such measures, they have received widespread criticism as “security theater”—measures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it. Indeed, some have even argued that the new security measures could make sports fans less safe by creating a target of large, dense crowds waiting in line outside the security perimeter to get in.

But whatever the reasons for or the utility of twenty-first century security measures at the ballpark, baseball history suggests that, to the extent fans are in danger of violence and injury at a baseball game, the means of such violence are decidedly primitive.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 24, 2016. Last Updated: October 24, 2016.