A young child was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. in a terrifying scene during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s nationally televised game in Houston.
Almora kept his eyes on the ball as it whizzed past the third-base line, past the existing safety netting and into the stands at Minute Maid Park. He clasped his head in his hands and let out a cry as fans gasped. He then fell to his knees burying his face in his arms. Teammate Jason Heyward and manager Joe Maddon attempted to console him as he cried.
The Astros infield also dropped to their knees as a man, who seemed to be with the girl, scooped her up and rushed the child up the stadium stairs.
Almora struggled to play through the remainder of the inning. When it was over, he walked into the stands where he spoke with a security guard. The conversation ended in an embrace with Almora becoming overcome with emotion.
“All we heard was screaming,” said David LeVasseur told the Houston Chronicle. “We saw this dad pick up a child and run up the stairs. He took off running.”
LeVasseur said the ball eventually landed at his feet.
“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.”
In a statement, the Astros confirmed the girl was taken to the hospital but offered no details on her condition. “We are not able to disclose any further details at this time. The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family,” the team said.
Speaking with reporters following the game, Almora said, “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her.” He said the rest of the at-bat “was kind of a blur.”
“I had to try to keep my composure during that at-bat, but when that half-inning was over, I just couldn’t hold it anymore,” he added.
In 2017, New York Yankee Todd Frazier hit a foul ball that struck a young girl in the stands. The incident renewed the debate over more extensive protection for fans in major league ballparks, eventually leading all 30 teams to implement extended safety nets in 2018.