CHICAGO: A line-drive foul ball off the bat of Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. missed the netting protecting fans down the third base line and struck a child in the crowd of Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. The child was then carried out of the stands for medical care and taken to a hospital.
According to the Twitter account for Houston radio station KBME 790 AM (SportsTalk790), the child, reportedly a girl, was expected to be OK.
Almora was visibly upset, and he eventually struck out to conclude his fourth-inning at-bat. After the half-inning ended, he went over to a security guard in the section where the child was hit to inquire about the injury. He and the security guard embraced, and Almora was visibly sobbing after they spoke.
“As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her,” Almora told reporters after the game. “It was kind of a blur, the rest of that at-bat, then after that half inning I went over to the stands… I just couldn’t hold it anymore.”
“I’m just praying, I’m just speechless, at a loss for words.”
Almora told reporters that he hopes to forge a relationship with the girl and her family “for the rest of my life.”
After the Cubs’ 2-1 win ended, the Astros released a statement, saying the 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.”
Major League Baseball mandated in 2015 that protective netting be extended further down the foul lines, and all 30 teams complied, but balls and bats have still been getting past them.
“(Almora) rips a line drive down the third base line and it comes in and it looks like it hits someone hard,” David LeVasseur, a Houston resident sitting in the section where the child was hit, told the Houston Chronicle. “It bounces, comes down and hits the guy to my left off ricochet and the next thing you know it’s at my feet. I pick it up and all we heard was screaming. ”
LeVasseur, 26, was sitting in the front row of section 111, and he estimated the child struck was in the seventh or eighth row.
“All we heard was screaming,” LeVasseur said. “We saw this dad pick up a child and run up the stairs. He took off running.
“I (came) upstairs and see the first-aid guys up there, and the dad is holding the girl. She (was) alert, she’s conscious, she’s fine. I was just going to give somebody in the family the ball. They kind of, naturally, shook it off. I asked the first-aid guy if she was OK, and he said he didn’t know.”
Immediate efforts to find the stricken child or the family were unsuccessful, the Chronicle reported.