Cubs Albert Almora breaks down after foul ball hurts child; how do we protect fans at the ballpark?

Albert Almora did nothing wrong last night, but that didn’t lesson the sadness of knowing a ball he hit caused injury to a child.

In the top of the fourth inning of last night’s Cubs vs. Astros game, Albert Almora pulled a line drive into the stands just beyond the Cubs dugout.  Almora immediately dropped to one knee and buried his head in his hands.

A four year-old child was crying after being hit by the foul ball. She was taken to a hospital shortly after, and is reportedly fine.

Almora was still shaken as he discussed that moment during his postgame media availability, “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her…Just praying. I’m speechless. I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys.”

Kris Bryant said he wants Major League Baseball to erect protective netting from foul pole to foul pole to protect players.

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A kid being hit by a foul ball can bring tragedy to a family – and baseball.  Last night’s incident is unfortunate, and no one is to blame for the ball hitting the child.  The important thing is that she recovers fully from what we all hope was more scary than damaging.

What Almora needs to embrace is that he did nothing wrong.  The parent(s) of the little girl need to care for her without asking what they might have done differently to prevent the ball from striking their daughter.

For the rest of us, this can be a learning moment to keep kids and adults safe during baseball games.

Here are some tips for your next trip to the ballpark that will help ensure your safety:

  • Put your smart phone in your pocket, and pay attention to the game.  If you need to check your texts, wait until the end of the half inning.  Make sure the phone is back in your pocket before the first pitch of the next half inning.
  • Sit in seats where you are comfortable if a ball is hit in your direction.  Line drives hurt, and if you don’t feel you can protect yourself, move to a seat farther from the plate.  When I took my toddler son to games at Wrigley Field, I sat in the bleachers or upper deck.
  • If you bring a kid or senior citizen to the game, take the seat closest to home plate so you will be able to get to the ball before it strikes those you need to protect.
  • Again – watch every pitch.  The odds are long a ball is going to strike you, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t.

Netting has expanded over the years, but professional baseball has existed without pole to pole protection for 118 seasons.  At some point, we need to take some measure of responsibility for our own safety.  Fans need to understand there is not an invisible membrane protecting us from harm as we walk through life.

Offer up a prayer for the little girl who was hit – as well as her parents, and then use their experience the next time you go to the ballpark to remind yourself how important it can be to watch the game.

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