Plenty of Cincinnati Reds fans were frustrated by Joey Votto’s first-inning ejection on Saturday against the San Diego Padres, but 6-year-old Abigail was heartbroken.
Her mother, Greenville, Ohio, native Kristin Courtney, wrote on Twitter it was Abigail’s first-ever Major League Baseball game. Their family had traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego to see the Reds play, and Abigail arrived in a Joey Votto T-shirt.
And then the ejection. Votto had gotten into an argument with San Diego Padres players, leading umpires to boot him and Reds manager David Bell from the game.
Words can’t do much justice to the picture that Courtney posted from Petco Park:
@Reds When it’s your first MLB game and your favorite player of all time gets thrown out of the game in the first inning…. 😥😥😥 #weloveyoujoey pic.twitter.com/h7lganVo3s
— Kristin (@SuperBarry11) June 19, 2021
Why does the first baseman mean so much to Abigail?
Simple reasons, her mother said. They have a dog named Joey Votto, and Abigail has discovered first base is her favorite position to play in tee-ball.
“She’s been watching and learning from Joey Votto (the person, not the dog), so that has really increased her interest in the game of baseball,” Courtney wrote in a message.
And the stormy start to Saturday’s game didn’t dull her enthusiasm in the end. Votto — the person, not the dog — sent his personal apology to Abigail on a signed baseball.
I have an update on the sad Abigail situation! It took a couple of innings, but she eventually cheered up with some popcorn! And Joey Votto is SO KIND- he signed this amazing ball for her!! Thank you so much Mr. Votto & the wonderful @Reds ❤️⚾️ pic.twitter.com/aIsHx3r42N
— Kristin (@SuperBarry11) June 20, 2021
“Someone called me down to the dugout to give me the signed ball (we are in the fourth row behind the Reds dugout),” Courtney wrote. “I’m not sure who it was, but we are so grateful to Mr. Votto and the Reds!!!”
That wasn't all — Abigail and her family returned to Petco Park on Sunday, where she got to meet Votto in person.
The weekend didn’t have a happy ending for the Reds, who were swept by Padres in a four-game series. But it had a happy ending for one of their smallest fans, and that’s a different kind of home run.
This story was originally published by Sarah Walsh on Scripps station WCPO in Cincinnati.