A young girl struck by a foul ball during an Astros-Cubs game last season at Minute Maid Park in Houston has a brain injury and is at lasting risk for seizures, an attorney for her family said.
The girl was reportedly sitting in her grandfather’s lap along the third-base line on May 29 when the ball hit her in the back of her head. As she was carried away from her seat and taken for medical attention, the player who hit the ball, Chicago outfielder Albert Almora Jr., appeared to be distraught and was consoled by teammates.
“She [the child] has an injury to a part of the brain, and it is permanent,” attorney Richard Mithoff told the Houston Chronicle. “She remains subject to seizures and is on medication and will be, perhaps, for the rest of her life. That may or may not be resolved.”
A spokesman for the Astros did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Mithoff said that, according to doctors, the girl’s central nervous system has been impacted by the brain injury in a manner similar to that of a stroke. He said the areas of the brain affected, when injured, can produce seizures, loss of spatial awareness and loss of sensation. According to the Chronicle, the girl turned 2 in May.
The girl’s parents and doctors have reported that, since the incident, she has had episodes of unresponsiveness and staring, as well as frequent headaches and night terrors, the attorney said. He added that doctors have described those symptoms as “consistent with the kind of injury she suffered.”
In June Mithoff said the girl had a fractured skull and suffered a seizure, and that she also suffered associated subdural bleeding, brain contusions and brain edema. The Chronicle reports that no legal action has been filed against the Astros.
Weeks after the girl was injured, the Astros extended their netting from the ends of the dugouts to further into the outfield, stopping at a point where the stands become parallel with the foul poles. In the immediate wake of the injury, Almora and other players had called for such a measure.
“Obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” Almora, still struggling with his emotions, told reporters after the game.
At the time, he noted that he was a father of two boys.
“God willing, I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life,” he said. “But just prayers right now, and that’s all I really can control.”
Kris Bryant, his Chicago teammate, echoed the call for more netting.
“There’s a lot of kids coming to the games — young kids who want to watch us play, and the balls come in hard,” he said. “I mean, the speed of the game is quick, and I think any safety measure we can take to make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it.”
After several fans were injured on balls hit into the stands over the past few seasons, including one incident in which a Dodgers fan died, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced in December that all 30 major league teams would extend netting past their dugouts in time for the 2020 season. Seven clubs would run it all the way to their foul poles, while others with different ballpark designs, such as at Minute Maid Park, would extend the netting to a point at which the stands angled away from the field.
“The family [of the girl] is gratified by the announcement from Major League Baseball that the netting will be extended in all 30 ballparks,” Mithoff said (via the Chronicle). “This is obviously a very significant step forward.”
Doctors have not yet been able to determine whether the girl’s injury has resulted in cognitive deficits, Mithoff said.
“She is able to continue with much of her routine as a girl her age would do, but her parents have to be particularly vigilant, as they are,” the attorney told the newspaper. “She has wonderful parents and is receiving wonderful care. They obviously are concerned, but she is blessed with a family that is doing relatively well, considering everything.”