Take a look at the photo above, a shot of the Washington Nationals ballpark in D.C. Draw a straight line from home plate over the mound and out past the center field wall. See what’s there? Nothing. Just a big grassy area topped with a green billboard, no fans.
Most modern ballparks are now built like that, and some older ones, too. The goal: Give the batter a better chance to see the ball. If a crowd of people was in the line of sight — let’s say all wearing white shirts — a batter would have a hard time picking up a 97-mph fastball.
Fenway Park in Boston, built in 1912, used to have a small grassy triangular area in dead-away center, but fans are now in that spot. Plus, everyone’s much closer to the field in the low-slug stadium, where dead center is only 389 feet deep.
And on Wednesday night, fans sought to take advantage of that. Many people in the crowd turned on their cellphone flashlights and pointed them at home plate in the seventh inning of a game between the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.
“You ever tried to hit with a light like that in your face? It’s not supposed to happen,” said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, according to the New York Post. “The umpires should have, in my opinion, stopped it right away. They see it happen — it’s right in dead center field.
“The fans are just having fun. I get it. But when it’s in dead center field, my hitters are looking right into it. It’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous, if you’ve ever been trying to hit with a light in your face. So, we just couldn’t let that happen.”
Here’s what it looked like:
The unruly fans were apparently miffed about a call at home plate. During the “flashout,” the game was delayed.
Red Sox security asked fans in the center-field bleachers to stop using the phones as flash lights, and play resumed. …
Red Sox manager Alex Cora joked that “that’s a good weapon.”
Cora said the umpires asked him if they could find a way to make it stop, but security had taken care of the problem.
Says Boston center fielder Andrew Benintendi: “It was kind of cool.”
No, that was very uncool.