Votto, Reds go extra mile, gift young fan

June 20th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- A little girl, who is a Joey Votto fan, will get to see her favorite player perform in person after all.

Kristin Courtney and her family -- including 6-year-old Abigail -- were given tickets to Sunday’s series finale vs. the Padres from the Reds. As she attended her first-ever big league game Saturday, Abigail was heartbroken when Votto was ejected in the top of the first inning.

Votto and the Reds saw Courtney’s tweets and wanted to make things right for Abigail. The first baseman provided her with an autographed ball that included a personal apology for not being able to finish the game.

“Well, if this was any year, I'd have her on the field today or I would have somehow snuck into the stands and given her a hug or something like that in street clothes,” Votto said Sunday. “It's part of my responsibility to stay in the game.

“But part of competing is I might get tossed. Then the fans miss out on the opportunity to maybe watch their favorite player -- I'm not saying me, but any player that gets tossed, there's a fan out there that misses out. That bums me out, especially if people hop on planes or travel, rent hotels. … A baseball game is a great game to attend, but some people have busy schedules or limited budgets or what have you, but I want to make everyone feel like if I'm their favorite player, I'm there giving my all for every inning possible. Yeah, that made me sad.”

Reds general manager Nick Krall and clubhouse manager Rick Stowe provided Abigail and her family with tickets for Sunday’s game. Courtney is an Ohio native who lives in the Los Angeles area.

“We were able to get her that ball. That's not able to make up for missing out on the game yesterday, so we left her tickets today,” Votto said. “I hope that she gets that, she gets to watch a Reds win and I play well for her.”

Votto was ejected from Saturday's 7-5 loss after arguing a check-swing appeal on strike three. He let third-base umpire Chris Guccione know he was mad about the call, but the situation escalated when Votto heard something from home-plate umpire Ryan Additon. He would not go into details on Sunday, however.

“The specifics of it, you know, it's not as entertaining if I give you the ins and outs of it,” Votto said. “Nobody really wants to know how fireworks work, right? He was right to throw me out, there's no question about it. We've got to keep the game moving, we've got to keep it going.”

Manager David Bell, who was also ejected from the game, watched on television as Courtney’s tweets with Abigail’s sad face was shown.

“Just a reminder of what this is all about,” Bell said. “People are here to see these guys play, and how meaningful it is to people, and how meaningful it is to the players to have people here watching them and supporting them. So much goes unseen and unnoticed, and it’s nice when it’s pointed out, because it’s not that Joey is looking for any attention from that. He does those kinds of things all the time, so when they’re pointed out, I think it’s important because people get to feel good about it.

“It’s just a reminder of why we’re doing this and how lucky we are to be able to do it, and that you can make a difference doing anything. It was really nice. Definitely made my day sitting there watching the game. It was just a great gesture, and hopefully, it made that little girl’s day, too.”

Votto used his time Saturday night to reflect on the ejection and he found some deeper meaning.

“Stuff like that happens when you're competing. I was thinking about this last night in bed. My mom always told me that I have my late father's temper -- I was thinking about today being Father's Day,” Votto said. “I was thinking about, 'Would he have been proud?' And yeah, for sure. Happy Father's Day everyone.”

Votto believed that his father, Joseph, would also have been proud for his attempt to make it up to Abigail.

“I was thinking about feeling regret and did I feel any sort of shame with my emotional outburst? The answer is probably no,” Votto said. “Maybe a little bit with some of the language, but probably no, because I was true to myself. But he would’ve been very proud of taking care of her and reaching out to them and making sure that wrong was righted.”