Duty of Ball Parks
Mrs. May Lee, 72, a loyal fan of the Milwaukee Braves, has been awarded $3,675. The award has just been upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and the verdict may involve a lesson for baseball.
Mrs. Lee was watching the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of a double-header just three years ago when a foul ball fell into the stands between home and third just a row or two ahead of her. Thereupon, Mrs. Lee complained, 10 or a dozen of her neighbors swarmed after the ball, throwing her from her chair into the concrete aisle and down a couple of steps. She suffered a broken rib and severe pain and was unconscious for a while. Ushers, who Mrs. Lee thinks should have protected her, were all down on the field getting set to protect the playing surface after the last out.
The defense told Mrs. Lee that if she wanted to be sure-enough safe at a ball game she could have sat behind the home-plate screen; that they could find no precedent anywhere for an award of the kind she asked. Well, now there is a precedent, at least in Wisconsin. Ball parks, the court said, have a duty to protect their customers at all times.
Mrs. Lee's case involves another possible lesson for insurance companies. After her accident Mrs. Lee offered to settle for her hospital bill—$100—but the Braves' insurance company turned her down.
Ratseys Here and There
With the new America's Cup yachts scheduled to hit the water between now and mid-June, one of our boating men has just paid a visit to the firm of Ratsey & Lapthorn on City Island in the north end of The Bronx to see how the sails for the boats are coming. The sails are coming fine, according to Mr. Ernest Ratsey, head of the firm, a comfortable-looking, ruddy fellow who sounds a bit like a Hampshireman although he left England with the migrating branch of the Ratseys at the age of 6 months.
"We started in 1790 over on the Isle of Wight at Cowes," said Mr. Ratsey, "and we opened the New York branch in 1902. I'm the fifth and my son Colin is the sixth and he's got a son Scott who'll come along to be a seventh generation. Our founder was George Rogers Ratsey, and the business was taken up by his son Charles. Now Charles married twice and had George Rogers by his first wife and Thomas White by his second. George Rogers' son, George Ernest, was my father and my brother is George Colin. My Uncle Thomas White was quite a character. He was an observer during the Seawanhaka Cup races over here back in 1929 when the British were running in it against the Americans and in the final race had to get by the American boat, to win, and wouldn't you know it, they got a puff right at the finish and came in the winner. Uncle Tom donned one of his socks wrong side out that day and claimed that this was the reason for the luck. He presented the sock to the winning yacht club and they have it to this day.
"Well, Uncle Tom's son Tom Christopher and his son Stephen and nephew Franklin Woodroffe are the Ratseys over there today, along with George Colin who went back over to help them there just last year. I run things over here with the help of Colin Ernest. We own half of them and they own half of us. I hope I'm not confusing you.
"As for the Lapthorn part of it, the Lapthorns had a loft in Gosport and used to compete with the Ratsey loft in Cowes. They finally amalgamated in 1880 and the loft in Gosport was known as Lapthorn & Ratseys and at Cowes it was Ratseys & Lapthorn.