The 2-year-old girl who was struck by a foul ball at Minute Maid Park on May 29 suffered a skull fracture and had a seizure, a spokesperson for the family said in a release issued Wednesday. The girl also had subdural bleeding, brain contusions, brain edema and an abnormal electroencephalogram, and is on medication to prevent further seizures.
The family has retained attorney Richard Mithoff to advise about the incident, according to the release. No lawsuit has been filed, but Mithoff detailed the injuries in a letter to the Houston Astros organization advising it that he and family attorney Steve Polotko had been retained.
"The Astros' risk management representative reached out to the family, and now that the family is represented by counsel, I wanted to let the other side know that I am involved so that they can get in touch with me," Mithoff told the Houston Chronicle. According to the release, the child was hospitalized for several days, and her progress will be reassessed in July. The family has requested privacy beyond that information, Mithoff said. The release Wednesday was the first time the extent of her injuries had been revealed.
The incident brought further attention to the issue of expanding safety netting at ballparks. In the past week, the Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers have announced plans to extend safety netting from foul pole to foul pole, with the Nationals saying the work will be done at their ballpark over the All-Star break next month.
According to a survey commissioned by ESPN last week, Major League Baseball fans support installation of more safety netting at ballparks by an overwhelming majority, 78 percent to 22 percent.
The survey was commissioned after the incident in Houston. The girl was injured when she was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. during a game between Chicago and the Astros. On Sunday, a woman at Dodger Stadium was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests after being struck in the head by a foul ball.
Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle was one of many players who called for baseball to address the issue after the incident in Houston, saying fans' safety should be a top priority.
"I am glad the Washington Nationals have decided to lead the charge on this issue," Doolittle said. "Players want fans to be able to safely enjoy the game without fearing for their safety."
Since 1913, every ticket to a major league game has included a disclaimer saying the holder of the ticket assumes all the risks inherent to the game. Called the "Baseball Rule," it has made it nearly impossible for fans injured at games to successfully sue teams or MLB.
Following recommendations from MLB, by the start of the 2018 season all 30 teams had expanded their protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts after several fans were injured by foul balls in 2017.
Earlier this month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, reacting to the incident in Houston, said he did not expect teams to make changes to the netting around ballparks during the season, but said he expected conversations to continue about whether the netting should be extended.