The need for more netting at Major League Baseball stadiums was once again on display Wednesday night after a foul ball off of Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora struck a child.
While all major league teams have extended the netting around the home plate area, few stadiums completely cover the lower bowl. The netting in Minute Maid Park on the third base side of the field extends to the end of the visiting team’s dugout. The girl was sitting in about the third or fourth row, 10 feet past where the netting ends.
Almora, visibly shaken, broke down in tears and was consoled by a security guard as the child was taken for medical attention.
"All we heard was screaming," David LeVasseur, 26, who was in the stands told the Houston Chronicle. "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."
After Albert Almora Jr. struck a young fan with a foul ball, in between innings he went immediately over to that section to ask about the situation. You can see he is overwhelmed with emotion as him and the security guard have a moment. This is just a terrible & sad situation. pic.twitter.com/Yh3wWmDjhx— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) May 30, 2019
For his part, Almora said he knew immediately that the ball had hit the child.
“Just the way life is,” he said. “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her. Right now I’m just praying and I’m speechless. I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys ... but God willing I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now and that’s all I really can control.”
Chicago Cubs coach Joe Maddon said he considered pulling Almora.
The Astros released the following statement. Our thoughts are with the entire family. pic.twitter.com/f1VGVP1kiu— Houston Astros (@astros) May 30, 2019
“I just want him to understand that this is not under your control,” Maddon said. “There is nothing that you could have done about that differently, so please don’t blame yourself. Of course, it’s an awful moment, but this is a game and it’s out of your control, and you have to understand it.”