MLB umpire in Cardinals vs Mets hit in face by stray pitch
Posted On September 14, 2021
Umpires are used to being hit by baseballs, but they rarely have to deal with it when working on bases. Junior Valentine suffered a rare direct hit as he refereed on first base in Monday night’s Cardinals-Mets game in New York. He never saw it coming either.
Valentine was pierced in the face near his right cheek by a stray pitch from Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa. The second-year MLB umpire correctly assumed that Sosa’s lopsided throw from behind second base wouldn’t approach him. He was focused on making a call as the Mets’ Kevin Pillar ran for first base.
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The throw knocked down and bloodied Valentin, who remained in the game despite a large scratch.
Call it a shot on the infield, twice.
“Nobody expected it. He was pretty far down there,” Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said, according to MLB.com. “It was louder than anything I heard a referee being touched. I felt really bad for him. What a stallion to stay in the game. His face was bleeding pretty well. The ball centered him.”
Referee team chief Jerry Meals said in a post-match statement that Valentine was “doing well”.
“He has been examined and has no broken bones,” Meals added. “He was incredibly alert from the start. The blood seemed to stop pretty quickly, thankfully, and he was adamant he was fine.”
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Sosa was not sent off for contacting a referee. His throw was clearly an accident.
Valentine worked in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in addition to the majors this year. He made his debut in the big leagues in 2020.