I love baseball, and I like hot dogs, and I was surprised to see them intersect in a personal injury case. But yesterday, I saw that they did.
Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the “baseball rule”, which protects teams from being sued for fan injuries caused by events on the field, does not protect sports teams when their mascots cause injuries.
In this case, the Kansas City Royals mascot was throwing hot dogs into the stands. One of the hot dogs hit John Coomer in the eye, resulting in him having two surgeries to repair his damaged eye.
Originally, the jury was instructed that being hit by the hot dog was an inherent risk of attending a sporting event. But the Missouri Supreme Court noted that there is nothing inherent about wayward mascots at sporting events. The Court noted that mascots aren’t a part of baseball; we’ve played baseball a long time without mascots throwing hot dogs, and we can continue baseball in the future without wayward hot dogs.
Legally, I have to think the court is correct. Mascot shenanigans aren’t an inherent part of the game. And while the hot dog incident almost prompts a chuckle, I’m sure no one would be laughing if a mascot did something more egregious, such as causing a golf cart to explode. Those are not inherent risks of our national pastime, and mascots need to be careful, like everyone else at the game.