Cubs Albert Almora overcome with emotion after foul ball hits child in stands
Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora reacted as any parent might as a foul ball he hit in Wednesday night’s game against the Houston Astros struck a young girl in the stands.
Almora, a father of two, immediately put his hands on top of his head, then sunk to a knee on the ground as play came to a halt. Teammate Jason Heyward put his arm on Almora’s shoulders and Cubs manager Joe Maddon came out of the dugout to offer words of support.
All major league teams have extended the protective netting around home plate in recent years, but it does not cover the entirety of the lower bowl.”
Awful scene in the Cubs/Astros game. A small kid was struck with the baseball in the stands. Almora Jr’s reaction says it all. Prayers up. pic.twitter.com/fLAdwlsAVi
It took several minutes for Almora, who appeared to be crying, to compose himself and continue the at-bat. Players from both teams appeared shaken up by the scene.
A visibly shaken Almora struck out on the next pitch. And on his way out to take his position in center field between innings he stopped by the area of the stands where the child was sitting.
There, he was consoled by a security guard as he began crying and covering his face with his glove.
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
“All we heard was screaming,” said LeVasseur, 26. “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.”
Almora still looked to be on the verge of tears after the Cub’s 2-1 win. He spoke haltingly as he described what happened and said he knew immediately as he looked into the stands that his ball had hit someone.
“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.”
Maddon said he was prepared to pull Almora from the game, but after his emotional moment with the security guard the center fielder said he was OK to keep playing.
“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.”
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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.
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.