“Stolen” baseballs

By | April 27, 2012

At a recent Rangers game, a couple was caught on film denying a game ball to a crying toddler, and they have been put through the social media ringer over it since then. Here’s the video…

I think the announcer was being a little harsh, myself. It didn’t look like they were “rubbing it in” – though they certainly were oblivious. In fact, they’ve copped to not noticing the crying kid in their excitement. I have no problem believing that in what was a noisy and excited situation.

Here’s the thing, though… the ball was really never anywhere near that kid, and his father never got that close to having it either. The ball was never rightly the kid’s. Yeah, it’s disappointing for him, I’m sure, and they could have given it to him just to be nice. But I have no sympathy. You know why? I had it worse.

Way back in the ’70s – when the Phillies were awesome – I actually went to a few games with my Dad. Only once, to my memory, did we ever sit anywhere in Veteran’s Stadium that it would even be possible for a ball to make it near us. But amazingly, in that one instance, the foul ball was hit right to us. And I mean that literally. Right. To. Us. It was liked they aimed it.

Let’s set some context here. This was Philadelphia in the ’70s. Phillies fans are known for a lot of things, but politeness is not one of them. In that video above, you saw people grabbing for the ball. In Philly, they dive over the seats, not even caring if they spill their beer (which is saying something with that crowd). And the Phillies were doing well back then, so excitement was high and attendance was up (or so I assume… it’s not like I researched it).

Anyway… the ball came straight at us. I didn’t catch it, but it did bounce and land directly in front of my seat, and I did pick it up. Midst the tumult of grasping digits and thrusting arms, it was in my hands, solidly — I had a ball hit by one of the Phillies! — for about 1.47 seconds, before some huge drunk guy shoved his weight into me and grabbed the ball right out of my hands, jumping up with it held high above his head grunting triumphantly. I’m pretty sure he still had his beer in his other hand as he walked back to his seat a few rows back and over.

Yeah, that’s right… he jumped a few rows and the stairs to man-handle a ball out of a kid’s hands. And he was proud of himself. I wasn’t as young as the kid in the video, but I couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8.

It’s just wrong, man. Where was my time on the giant screen? What announcer came to my defense? That’s right — nowhere, and nobody. (Dad did give him “the look” though – which was usually reserved for me and my brother after some less-than-well-considered activity, so I’m sure that guy was quaking (assuming he noticed).)

So do I have sympathy for the kid in the video? Well, yeah, okay, a little – come on, he’s just a kid. But I also have a healthy dose of “suck it up, kid” welling up inside of me. Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear takes the baseball right out of your hands and uses it to slap your hapless optimism into the gum-stained stadium floor where it’s stuck for the next 7 years.

On the plus side, though… memorable moment for me, and I still had a good time with my Dad.

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