CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Cubs player Albert Almora Jr. hit a hard line-drive foul into the stands at Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros, striking a child.
Almora Jr. was visibly distraught after the fourth-inning hit in Minute Maid Park in Houston.
“As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her,” Almora said after the game.
“I had to keep my composure during that at-bat, but when that half-inning was over, I just couldn’t hold it anymore.”
He immediately put his hands on his head and took a couple of steps toward the seats. He then fell to his knees near home plate and was consoled by teammate Jason Heyward and manager Joe Maddon.
It took several minutes for Almora, who appeared to be crying, to compose himself and continue the at-bat, and players from both teams also appeared shaken up by the scene.
The girl was picked up by a man who appeared to be with her and he dashed up the stairs not long after she was struck. A photo taken by The Associated Press showed the girl apparently conscious and crying as she was whisked away and nearby fans looked on.
Following the fourth inning, Almora, who still appeared upset, approached a security guard in the stands near where the girl was sitting and spoke to the guard before the two embraced.
Like all major league stadiums, Minute Maid Park has netting to protect fans near the field from foul balls. On the third base side in Houston, it extends to the end of the visiting team’s dugout. The girl was sitting in what looked to be the third or fourth row about 10 feet past where the netting ends.
The incident ignited a conversation that has been circling around Major League Baseball over the past few years regarding fan safety.
Following recommendations from Major League Baseball, by the start of the 2018 season all 30 teams had expanded their protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts after several fans were injured by foul balls in 2017.
At Yankee Stadium in May 2017, a boy was struck on the head by a portion of Chris Carter’s broken bat. A fan sitting beyond the first base dugout was hit by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Aaron Judge in July of that year. And in September, a young girl was injured by another 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier and was hospitalized.
The Houston Astros released the following statement:
“The young fan that was struck by a foul ball during tonight’s game was taken to the hospital We are not able to disclose any further details at this time. The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family.”
Several media reports indicate the child is recovering well.
“With God willing, I’ll be having a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life,” Almora said.
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