DES MOINES, Iowa — The visceral reaction of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. says it all after his foul ball rocketed into the stands hitting a four-year-old during the Cub’s Wednesday night matchup with the Houston Astros. Almora Jr. clutched his head in his hands and was inconsolable after the girl’s father rushed up the stands to get her medical help.
The gut-wrenching scene has renewed calls to extend netting from fans and players themselves. In Des Moines the Iowa Cubs have been a leader in fan safety, being one of the first minor league teams to extend their netting to the end of the dugout. Even before Wednesday night’s game, the team was planning to be one of the first to take it a step further.
“Two days ago, I was going through my invoicing to see what it’s going to take to finish up the engineering to get the nets moved. Probably before the next season starts, we’ll be at the end of the foul polls at both sides,” said Iowa Cubs President Sam Bernabe.
The idea of netting the entire length of the foul line can be divisive to some baseball fans, but so far Bernabe says he’s had nothing but positive reactions.
“I didn’t lose any season ticket holders, I didn’t have to refund any ticket money, probably more often than not somebody will come to me and say thanks for putting the nets up,” he said.
Extending the nets to the foul pole is not mandated by the league but some, like Olivia Van Brocklin, say it needs to be. Van Brocklin was struck by a line drive while watching the I-Cubs in 2017.
“I’m old enough to be aware of the ball and where the ball is going and such, but this four-year-old probably had no clue to even watch the ball or watch the game, so I think the more netting the better,” said Van Brocklin.
Van Brocklin says it took her nearly a month to fully recover from the accident.
The young fan at the Astros game is also expected to make a full recovery.