Ump able to stay in after throw hits face

September 14th, 2021

NEW YORK -- First-base umpire Junior Valentine's focus inadvertently put him in harm's way on a routine play during Monday’s game between the Mets and Cardinals at Citi Field.

Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar led off the second inning and hit a ground ball to Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who went to his left side then spun and threw the ball to first base without stopping. Valentine was preparing for Sosa to throw the ball to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt with his eyes trained on the first-base bag. Instead, Sosa's throw hit Valentine square in the right side of the face and he fell to the ground. The other three umpires and the Mets trainer came to Valentine’s assistance.

About 10 minutes passed before play resumed, with Valentine remaining in the game despite a visibly bloody cut. Pillar was credited with a single on the play.

"That was loud, too," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "No one was expecting that. He was pretty far over there. … That was louder than anything I’ve heard an umpire be hit. I felt really bad for him. What a stud to stay in the game. His face was bleeding pretty good. The ball centered him up."

After the game, crew chief Jerry Meals released a statement: "Junior is doing well. He’s been checked out and has no broken bones. He was incredibly alert from the get-go. The blood seemed to stop fairly quickly, thankfully, and he was adamant that he was fine."