MLB is facing calls to increase protective fencing after a traumatic incident in Wednesday's game between Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
A line-drive from Albert Almora Jr. struck a four-year-old girl in the crowd and reduced the Cubs batter to tears on the pitch.
The child's father immediately took her to receive medical attention as a stunned Minute Maid Stadium watched on in silence.
Astros players in the field looked visibly concerned, while Almora had to be consoled by team-mate Jason Heyward and manager Joe Maddon as he broke down.
Security later informed the 25-year-old that the girl, who had been sitting behind third base in the fourth innings, was hurt but remained conscious.
“Right now, I’m just praying and I’m speechless,'’ Almora is quoted by The Guardian.
“I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys ... but God willing, I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life.
"But just prayers right now, and that’s all I really can control.”
An Astros statement added:
“The young fan that was struck by a foul ball during tonight’s game was taken to the hospital.
“We are not able to disclose any further details at this time.
"The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family.”
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is among those leading the campaign, in the aftermath of the event, for more protection to be given to spectators.
All MLB stadiums use netting in case of foul balls but at the Minute Maid, it does not stretch to the area where the girl was sitting on the third-base side and at any rate, does not cover all the rows.
It was only in the 2018 season that all 30 big league teams had to ensure netting reached the far ends of the dugouts.
That was in response to several injuries, but none proved quite as upsetting as this one.