Foul ball injures a young fan at the Cubs-Astros game and leaves a distraught baseball player in tears
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 5/30/2019, 11:35 a.m.
Originally Published: 30 MAY 19 06:14 ET
Updated: 30 MAY 19 12:13 ET
By Jason Hanna, Chuck Johnston and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) -- A sharply hit foul ball struck a girl during the Chicago Cubs' game with the Astros in Houston on Wednesday night, sending the young fan to a hospital and pausing the contest as the batter knelt in shock.
Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit the line drive in the fourth inning, into the field-level seats on the third-base side at the Astros' Minute Maid Park.
The crowd let out a collective gasp when the ball struck the child. Almora was distraught, throwing his hands behind his head immediately after seeing the impact.
The girl was taken to a hospital, but her condition was not immediately available. A fan who was sitting nearby, David LeVasseur, told CNN that the child appeared to be conscious as she was being carried away.
Before finishing the at-bat, Almora got down on one knee and lowered his head as his manager and a teammate consoled him. Later in the game, Almora went to the area of the stands where the girl was hit and appeared to cry in the arms of a female security guard.
A shaken Almora told reporters of his regret after the Cubs' 2-1 victory, and of his hope that he'd be in touch with the child.
"As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her," he said, speaking hesitatingly, his eyes down. "... Obviously I didn't want that to happen and intend for that to happen."
"God willing, I'll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. Prayers right now, and that's all I really can control."
The Houston Astros confirmed the child was taken to a hospital, but declined to provide further information.
"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 in a statement.
Major League Baseball extended protective netting last year
Before the start of last season, Major League Baseball announced that it was extending protective netting at all 30 ballparks to at least the ends of both dugouts, intending to enhance fans' safety.
The child who was struck on Wednesday night was sitting beyond the third-base dugout's far end, apparently beyond the netting.
The league extended the netting after high-profile incidents in which batted balls struck fans -- including a man who was blinded in one eye by a foul ball during an August 2017 game at the Cubs' Wrigley Field.
After Wednesday's game, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told ESPN that he'd like to see netting "around the whole field."
"I mean, you can see through these fences here," Bryant said, referring to the netting. "There's a lot of kids coming to the games, young kids, who want to watch us play.
"And the ball's coming hard. The speed of the game is quick. I think any safety measure we can take to make sure fans are safe, we can do it."