Southwest University Park produces a lot of foul balls

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso baseball fans are right on top of the action at Southwest University Park.

In fact, you are so close to the field, unless you sit behind the screen at home plate, a foul ball can reach you quickly at any time. There have already seen some real screamers going into the stands, including a few on opening night.

Four-year old michael chavez will be celebrating his birthday at an El Paso Chihuahuas game this weekend. And his Dad, Adolfo Chavez, a big baseball fan, knows the best way to protect his son from getting hit by a foul ball.

"We'll bring our gloves," Chavez said, "and we'll be ready for them."

Others were a little nervous about the quaint setting.

"I'm worried they're going to hit me in the head or the knee or somewhere," said Monica Contreras, who plans to attend a game with her family in the new Ballpark soon. "Usually I watch out for foul balls with the kids. I cover them up. I'd rather have the ball hit me than the kids."

Southwest University Park was built so intimate, with limited foul ground because of the tight fit, it's important to stay alert at all times. There are warnings all over the inside of the Ballpark and outside, both in English and in Spanish."

The foul ground is a lot smaller than many major league parks, including O.Co Colisum in Oakland, where there is a lot of it. If you don't think a foul ball can find you, consider this: Former El Paso Mayor Susie Azar threw out the first pitch at Cohen Stadium 24 years ago.

"She then went to her seat about four rows up behind the dugout," former Diablos owner Jim Paul said, "and a foul ball proceeded to hit her right in the head."

Not even Chihuahuas co-owner Woody Hunt is safe in the new Ballpark. At Wednesday's game, he took a foul ball in the chest while sitting in the owner's suite.

"You do have to be careful because there's a lot of foul balls," said El Pasoan Brian Leonard, who plans to go to a game this weekend and hopes to get a foul ball. "

Brian Leonard says there is nothing better than getting a foul ball at a game. "The more foul balls the better. It's a great souvenir."

But he's also ready if one comes his way.

"If you bring your kids, of course, bring a glove," Leonard said. "That's all part of the experience."

ABC-7 asked the Chihuahuas for comment Friday on foul ball safety at Southwest University Park and whether they've had any serious injuries, but was told repeatedly that no one was available.

Again, the best bet to protect yourself, especially if there are kids involved ... Bring a glove!

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