A little girl was injured at the baseball game Wednesday night between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. Batter Albert Almora, Jr. smashed a scorching line drive into the seats behind third base in the fourth inning, the ball hitting the child flush.
Not much is known about the kid or the extent of her injury. All I can make out from the footage I’ve seen indicates she’s about 4 or 5 years old and she was screaming in either terror or agony (or both) as her father raced up the aisle with her in his arms, on his way to the Minute Maid Park concourse for emergency treatment.
Neither the Houston Astros nor the family of the little girl have released any information about the kid’s condition in the days since the incident. We don’t even know her name at this time. Witnesses and videos indicate she was conscious and communicative, as mentioned earlier, immediately after the being hit by the liner.
The story has gained attention around the world because, well, it was a tiny kid getting clunked, the whole thing could have turned out to be a real tragedy, and the reaction of the batter, Almora.
The Cubs’ centerfielder broke down in tears as the stadium fell into a hush. He had to be consoled by team leader Jason Heyward and manager Joe Maddon. Then, the next inning, Almora sought out a security person who’d been nearby the girl when she was hit, asking after the kid’s condition. He broke down again, sobbing visibly as the security guard held him in her arms.
There’s no hint that the child might be permanently damaged by the blow (physically, at least — I’d bet she’d be loath to accompany her dad to a baseball game any time soon) so I’ll point out something positive and wonderful to emerge from this almost-horror story.
A big-time professional athlete was unafraid to show real, honest emotion in a very public setting. Almora’s at an age when a lot of males feel compelled to strut their macho stuff — he turned 25 in April — and would consider such a display to be a sign of weakness or worse. Almora buried his head in his arms as he kneeled outside the batter’s box in the moments after hitting the ball. His shoulders shook and heaved even an inning later while the security person consoled him.
He cried like a baby. That, by my lights, made him the strongest person in that whole ballpark. Maybe even in the whole game of baseball.
Here’s the link to yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Phil Proctor and David Ossman, the surviving members of the storied, revolutionary comedy troupe, the Firesign Theater.
Pictured above — circa 1970 — the surrealist/anarchist/dadaist, excruciatingly literate word-playing quartet is down to two remaining funnymen, Proctor (L) & Ossman (in glasses), who bill themselves What’s Left of the Firesign Theater. Phil Austin, who created the signature character, private eye Nick Danger, died in 2015. The team announced his death with the simple yet perfectly expected gag line: “Nick Danger has left the office.” Peter Bergman, the driving force behind the founding of the group in 1966 at Los Angeles radio station KPFK, died of leukemia in 2012.
I had such a blast with Proctor & Ossman in the studio and we went on for so long that I’ve decided to air the interview on successive weeks. Yesterday’s program was part one; part two will run Thursday, June 6th, at 5:30pm, on WFHB, 91.3 FM. And, yeah, I’ll post the podcast link to that part as well next week.