Umpires are used to being struck by baseballs, but they rarely have to deal with it when they’re working the bases. Junior Valentine was a victim of a rare direct hit while umpiring first base in Monday night’s Cardinals-Mets game in New York. He never saw it coming, either.
Valentine was drilled in the face near his right cheek by an errant throw from Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa. The second-year MLB arbiter rightly assumed that Sosa’s spinning, off-balance toss from behind second base wouldn’t get near him. He was focused on making a call as the Mets’ Kevin Pillar was racing for first base.
The throw knocked down and bloodied Valentine, who stayed in the game despite suffering a large abrasion.
Call it an infield hit, times two.
Sosa was not ejected for making contact with an umpire. His throw clearly was an accident.
Valentine, incidentally, was umpiring his first MLB game of the season Monday night, according to Retrosheet.org. He had been working in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He made his big league debut in 2020.