The time I had a baseball stolen from me

I was the kind of kid who was often starstruck around pro athletes. I got my first autograph at eight or nine from Cory Snyder, and I don’t know if I’d have been more thrilled if it had been Barry Bonds. I once got in trouble at a high school dance because the Sacramento Kings were gathering in the same building, and I kept going up to the team. Even interviewing Jose Canseco a few years ago felt surreal. As a journalist, I’ve learned to be objective talking to players, though part of me still brims with childlike awe whenever I talk to anyone whose baseball card I may have had. Baseball has and will hopefully always hold a certain magic for me, and watching a video online Wednesday night, some feelings came back.

To anyone who hasn’t seen it, Deadspin and a number of other outlets posted a clip of a young boy bawling at a game in Texas last night after losing out on a foul ball to a couple sitting next to him. In the video, the kid who can’t be more than three or four cries and cries while the couple obliviously celebrates. I know that kid’s feeling because I once had a baseball snatched from me at a game. The only difference is that I got it back.

It happened at a game between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox at the Kingdome in 1995. I was 11 or 12 and sitting with family next to the visitor’s bullpen, close enough that I could talk to journeyman reliever Jose DeLeon. I had never caught a foul ball or home run to that point, and I still haven’t at 28, my chances so low I don’t even bring a glove to games anymore. I don’t remember what I said to DeLeon, then in the final season of an up-and-down career, but perhaps he took pity, as somewhere through the course of the game, he flipped a ball my way– a ball that was promptly intercepted by a man two seats over from me.

My dad joked later about my look of shock and disappointment, about how my jaw dropped. There’s a scene in Field of Dreams where Moonlight Graham tells Ray Kinsella about playing half of one inning in the majors and never getting to bat, “It was like coming this close to your dreams, and then watching them brush past you like strangers in a crowd.” I felt a little like that. I didn’t burst into tears, but I was pretty close, and I assume the man saw, because he immediately gave the ball back.

Someone wound up giving that kid in Texas a ball last night, and there’s video of the little guy smiling, spirits restored. I know that feeling, too, how cool it felt to have a dirt-stained baseball with the American League logo on it. Was it a big deal I hadn’t caught a foul ball or that I essentially negotiated for it? Not really. A ball’s a ball. I took it with me to an A’s-Red Sox game in Oakland later that season and got it autographed by several players, among them Tim Wakefield and a rookie Jason Giambi. I never played with it, remembering a story my dad told me about using a ball signed by Willie Mays and Juan Marichal among others. The ball I got remains a prized possession.

There’s one thing I should probably add here. As we left the Kingdome that night, my four-year-old cousin kept asking for the ball, but I refused. I suppose I can sympathize with the couple who got that ball last night. I’m not perfect, either.


The time I had a baseball stolen from me — 80 Comments

  1. Postscript: I had promised that today’s post would be an update to my RBI post from last week. That article’s still coming, hopefully next week. My apologies to anyone who was looking forward to it.

  2. Someone ought to tell this kid “there’s _NO CRYING_ in baseball!”.

    Then they they can work their way through:
    – the Tooth Fairy
    – the Easter Bunny
    – Santa Claus
    – “this’ll hurt me more than it hurts you”

    Better to get it over with when they’re young.

    I hope that I didn’t burst anyone’s bubble.

  3. My very first game was at Shea, against the Pirates.
    Pretty sure it was this one:

    Though, in my memory, Joel Youngblood won the game with a three run homer.
    I’ve checked his HR log, and he never did that, so I dunno.

    What I know for a fact is that Mookie Wilson hit a foul ball about 15 feet from where we were sitting behind third base. I was stunned by how fast it moved, and how loudly it smacked off some metallic wall. For a long second I just sat there looking at it, then my Dad leapt over me and went and picked it up! He got there right before three other dudes.

    This was possible because the attendance was 1,754.

    The only ball I ever got myself was a Bo Jackson Home Run Ball!
    Well, it was a Bo Jackson batting practice home run ball.
    Well, it was a Bo BP ball that flew into the concession area under the RF bleachers at Yankee Stadium that a security guard had picked up and handed to me when I ran down there to look for it.

    Lame story, yes. But that’s how rare it is to get a ball.

  4. Great story, Graham.

    I’m [ahem] somewhat older than you, and I’ve never gotten a ball at a big-league game. Only once did a ball come remotely near me; in Wrigley, a BP homer was scorched right over my head in the RF bleachers. I had my glove, and if I’d had Shaq’s height and Spud Webb’s leaping ability, I might have snagged it. But I had the opposite qualities, and came up short.

  5. I have to admit that I’d probably keep the ball. Like John Autin, in all my years of going to games, I’ve never come that close to getting one. What I’d say is, “Kid, you’ve got 30 years more than I do to get another one of these. Good luck!”.

    • /LIKE/

      Yes indeed. So glad to know there is an audience of all you fine folks out there who can sympathize with how rare it is to get a ball. If i was a ball virgin, i also admit that i would not have shared that souvenir with the kid last night. And rightly so. Little-kid-joy aside, it should take at least 30 yrs to pay your dues!

      I was finally, amazingly blessed last summer. After 40+ yrs and at least 1000+ mlb/milb games, i reunited with some old high school friends last July on a gorgeous, blazing afternoon at Miller Park, where the Brew Crew was hosting the Reds. After a couple hours of enjoying some ultimate tailgating, brats, beer and good natured ribbing of passing Reds fans, we got ready to head in, towards our seats in the leftfield bleachers, about 15 rows back.

      On the way, i was the only one carrying a glove (a “Yaz” mitt from about 1976), so one of my buddies starts razzing me, “Hey, man, what are you, like 12-yrs-old, bringing your glove?” We played baseball in hschool together, so it was somewhat good-natured.

      “Dam straight,” I said. “Why not? You’re just jealous…” or some other such nonsense.

      Sometime around the 4th inning, Scott Rolen (one of my fav players, partly because i hear he actually likes to read books, real books) lofts a high drive for a homer that clears the left field wall by about 10 feet, maybe 20 feet right below us … and then — ohmygosh!!! — skips off assorted hands and heads right for us! There’s a mad blur of concrete and plastic seats and a scramble for the ball, and somehow, suddenly, there it is: I’m clutching this amazing white ball in my hands! Yes!! Oh my god, yess!

      Finally, after all those years and all those games; now, surrounded by my friends, and only a week after my father died, I had a ball. He was the one, of course, who taught me baseball. Grew up a Cubs fan in the 30s, adopted the Braves in the 50s, taught me the Brewers and the game in the 70s. And yes, i like to think he helped guide that ball my way.

      I spent the rest of the night casually smacking the ball from my right hand into my glove, savoring it, occasionally sharing it with people nearby (“can i hold it?”) and for a few brief innings, became the hero, the idol of my section and concourse. Dang it was fun.

      I sincerely hope the rest of you get to experience something like that someday, and dont have to explain yourself to crying children or tv cameras afterwards!

      • Are you kidding???

        Great story, BTW. But, you caught a HOME RUN ball. Brought the glove. Took the razzing for having the glove. Played the ricochet to perfection. Wala! Nice.

        This was a ball that was flipped into the stands. Big fat hairy whoop. It’s nothing (or should be nothing) to adults. A 3-year-old kid wouldn’t have to be wailing crying to get the ball from me.

        I’ve caught a minor league HR, immediately gave it to a kid. Picked a foul ball from the deck, tossed it to a kid. And got a ball flip James Loney and gave to a girl couple of seats over. (I’m a Giants fan, so that one was way easy to give up.)

        I sweat American adults, we look like a bunch of douches the way we go greedy-bananas over flippin’ baseballs at ball games. They are just like Trix. For kids!

        • Aw, damn. At what age do adults have to turn in their fun card? Is it 18? 21? Is it less in the South? Man, growing up just sucks…

          BTW, if anyone knows a bunch of deprived kids out there, I guess I have 85 pieces of Trix on my bookshelf that I need to dole out before I get turned over to the No Fun Police. First lucky kid to knock on my door gets the exclusive Tike Redman batting practice homer!

          • No fun? Not what I’m saying.

            I had to run and leap to catch the HR (was on a grass berm). Enjoyed that.

            Also had to hustle over a couple of rows to get the foul ball.

            It’s fun to get the ball (as long as you’re not ridiculously diving and falling all over the place at age 40 for the ball. Then, yes, douchey.)

            But, then, share. With a kid. They’re kids. Honestly means more to them.

            If I really really really want a baseball, I buy one. HR balls are different. But fouls and flips??? C’mon!

          • I’m with the Squirrel on this one. K&J, I do not begrudge you the right to dispose of your own souvenir baseball as you see fit. I would like to be accorded the same respect.

            When I went to ballgames as a kid, I wanted to catch a ball, though I never did at a big-league game. I didn’t want someone to hand me the ball they had caught, and if they had, it wouldn’t really have meant anything to me. My brother and I would have used it in our sandlot games. Unless it was autographed by Al Kaline or Norm Cash.

            If a ball comes my way now, I’ll try to catch it — without, of course, interfering with anyone else. Should I be so lucky as to finally get one, I’ll most likely keep it, although you never know until you’re in that moment.

          • Fair enough JA & Squirrel.

            I guess I’ve just seen enough of adults ungracefully falling all over themselves (and other fans) in frenzied scramble some foul ball that’s bounced around for a while.

            Have some dignity! : P

            Anyway, that some kids would go play sandlot ball with a MLB ball that was handed to them is great. Better that than to sit in box somewhere in my attic.

          • Thank god none of us were Bartman, poor guy.

            Can you imagine what they would have done to him if HE had donated that ball to a child nearby?!? Ooooohh, someone would have killed him for sure, possibly Moises Alou.

            No moral or point there; just a weird observation.

          • @K&J

            I agree with what you say about the idiots who make fools out of themselves leaping rows of seats and pushing innocent bystanders to chase down souvenirs. They’re the ones who ruin it for those like me who enjoy the thrill of the chase AND the satisfaction that comes with collection of such treasures.

            I also think it is terrible when adults lunge out in front of kids for balls tossed into the stands. Something I would never do, and such idiots deserve to be roundly booed by everyone else.

            And as someone who is a 20+ year veteran of BP watching and “participating”, a tip for you parents out there. Don’t give your 6 year old a tee ball glove and throw him out with everyone else in the mad scramble for balls getting hit into the stands. They’re not old enough and big enough for that. Instead, stand by the railings with them and beg for the thrown ball. And if some jerk jumps in front of your kid to catch it, pop him in the eye…

            And one last note, I was 19 when I got my first ball at a Major League game. I wasn’t even paying attention, and it just rolled down the aisle and landed at my feet. You never forget your first ball. Keep that in mind the next time you see a 30-something sprinting through half empty seating sections for a pinballing foul ball. He may be a ball virgin… and just perhaps, still a kid at heart. We should all be…

          • @69

            Alou was one of the biggest whiners of his time in the game (I recall he got upset that Livan Hernandez kept getting all the accolades during the 1997 postseason…. hey Moises, your team just won the damn World Series! Shut up and enjoy it!) I think the tantrum he threw at the time is in part why Bartman was so unjustly persecuted. And I still don’t believe he’d have ever caught the damn ball to begin with…

        • Thanks Bstar. It definitely did. I wouldnt trade that ball or memory for anything. Maybe i’d give away the next one i catch, but as we all know, i doubt i’ll have that option/problem.

  6. I’ve only had three realistic chances at a clean catch of a batted baseball at a Major League game in my life.

    Sitting in the front row of the bleachers at Busch, I missed out on catching a homerun off the bat of Felix Jose in 1992 (didn’t bring my glove to the game, D’oh!) Guy behind me caught it in his hat.

    Same stadium, I was sitting in the front row where the stands jut out past the third base line in 2003 when Jose Vidro smoked a line drive that I barely had time to even deflect. The guy sitting behind me thanked me for saving him from a huge dental bill, but I was more upset over missing the ball, which I managed to deflect halfway up the section I was sitting in.

    Then in 2008, sitting in the third row of the Busch bleachers, Carlos Pena lobbed a towering homerun that literally came down right in my seat. I had my glove up and ready….. and the ball popped out, hit a lady behind and to the right of me, and rolled down that aisle. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position… I’ll probably never get a chance like that again to catch a homerun. That glove, which I had used in Little League in the 80’s, was promptly retired…

    Though I went 0-3 on those opportunities, I do still have two game balls. One was an opposite field homer hit by Scott Rolen in 2004 (off the late Josh Hancock) that bounced into a pile of garbage under the bleachers in front of me. I was only able to dig it out because the girls that had been sitting there went out for snacks the inning before. The other was in KC in ’08, a popup by the legendary Mariner Matt Tuiasosopo that Royals rightfielder Jose Guillen caught for the third out of the inning, then flipped to me in the stands.

    I have a ton of balls from BP, but still one day want to catch a real homerun. I may throw a tantrum myself if I don’t….. WAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

  7. While attending a White Sox v. Marlins exhibition in 1994 played at the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphin Stadium, etc..
    Chuckie Carr hit a line drive into the seats down the left field line.

    It bounced off many hands and feet, eventually coming to rest between my

    The game featured a rookie for the White Sox named Michael Jordan.

  8. I got a ball signed by the entirety of the 1994 Cleveland Indians — quite literally every player. My sisters played with it and completely and totally ruined it. I feel for your dad.

      • Unfortunately, those three were not. To clarify, anyone who was on the roster circa July was not. I believe all three of the above made their one appearance for the year in May.

    • Hey don’t feel bad. I had a ball signed by the 1980 WS champion Phillies – Carlton, Schjmidt, Rose, et al. My father takes the ball to the local mall in like 1994 and has Mickey Morandini sign it since my father went to high school with Morandin’s father and uncle. He couldn’t have just said, “Hello”, and introduced himself. He even brought along his 1943 Vandergrift (PA) HS yearbook.

    • I met Don Mattingly at his restaurant in Evansville back in the summer
      of 1988. The Yanks had an offday during the week and he had come home
      for the day.

      I talked to him for about five minutes and bought a shirt which he signed.

      That winter I brought it home from college to show some friends.

      My darling mother decided to do my laundry. After that I let her
      keep it. I couldn’t bear to look at it.

      Later if memory serves, that T-shirt attained most favored dust rag status.

  9. When I go to Jays games, I try to go early to watch BP. I don’t even remember what team it was during BP, but a foul ball went way over my head abd I knew it was going to bounce back, so to protect myself I turn to watch, It was coming straight to me. I swear, I bare-handed it cleanly.

  10. I took my son to a minor league game and he insisted that we bring our gloves. So, we did. Good thing.

    We were sitting on the first base side and a right-handed hitter hit a foul liner. Really hit it good, just late on it. As Voomo described his experience, the ball really was like a heat-seeking missile, coming right at us. I ducked and covered up my son with my right arm, while throwing up my left (with glove on) to shield us. Sure enough, even though I wasn’t watching it, the ball ended up in the glove. Some ladies in the row behind us thanked me profusely and bought us some hot dogs.

  11. I once had a shot at a ball – only once. One of my heroes, Duke Snider, hit a foul back to the empty seat in front of me in the Polo Grounds (Mets days, but the Duke wasn’t one yet). I felt a thrill of disbelief – a ball for me from the Duke! Then I felt a different thrill when I realized how fast it was traveling – I ducked even faster, and the Duke’s ball broke the seat and bounced away. When I think back (often), the only feeling I have is relief. I realized on the spot that I’d always liked Furillo better.

      • Mets played there in 1962 and 1963, while Shea was being built. Demolition started a week before the Shea opener in 1964. According to, the wrecking ball used for Ebbets field was also used to bring down the Polo Grounds.

        • Doug, were the bullpens still in the outfield in 1962 and 1963? And with center field being 455′ away (like Tiger Stadium), what was the distance to the left-center field power alley?

          • Doug and Jason, thanks for the links. I’m familiar with both web sites and should have looked it up myself.

            So answering my own question, the Polo Grounds lists at 483′ to dead centre, presumably to the back of the alcove where the clubhouse exit was. Dimensions were 447′ and 440′ to the closest thing to what could be called power alleys in the place.

            What I had forgotten, though, about the Polo Grounds, until I looked at Clem’s baseball page, was the distance to the left and right field “fair” poles, 279′ and 258′, respectively. Couldn’t a left-handed hitter have made a living off of pool-cueing nine-iron pop flies to right that would hook around the pole?

            The most asymmetric stadium in baseball history?

          • Doug, hang on a minute. Are you saying the baseball shot heard around the world went into the second-deck overhang in left field?

            I seem to remember an old still photo of the Thomson at-bat, before he hit it out of course, with all the defensive players in position and the flight of the home run drawn in with a dashed, curved line. I thought the trajectory of the ball, as I remember it, was to left centre, where there was no overhang.

            Is memory failing me here? (Probably!)

      • That’s the one, in a fine state of disintegration. I wish I could say I’d loved the place, but I was only resentful that it was standing and Ebbets Field wasn’t.

        As for the dimensions (your follow up), I don’t know about the power alleys, but having spent lots of time in both places, the bleacher experience was far more remote than Tiger Stadium. The Polo Grounds was shaped like a football field (or, I guess, polo grounds), with the bleachers sloping away beside a looming green clubhouse. If the Duke had hit one out there, it would have floated into your hands in exhaustion. The nice thing was that for $1.25 you could watch the Dodgers come home and never lose – the splendor of the early Mets.

        • Thanks for the memories, e pluribus! So the Dodgers (or at least their fans) still thought of New York as home, even into the early 1960’s?

          • I can’t speak for the grown ups, Neil, but as a kid I tried to believe for years that the Dodgers were just playing their home games away – as if LA were Jersey City West. But it’s also true that the Mets would sell out Dodger and Giant games to spurned-but-loyal fans, and even though the Polo Grounds Mets almost always lost (really), on the rare occasions it went the Mets’ way, you had to cheer – the spirit of Little League.

            On the Thomson home run, I think your memory of the trajectory is correct, but my source is the same photo (it was just before my time). I suspect that the most famous HR to make use of the midget foul lines was Dusty Rhodes’ first game WS pop fly to right in ’54.

          • e pluribus, it is politically incorrect to ask your age, but High Heat Stats needs commenters who had eyeballs on games in any era.

            Richard Chester is our unofficial archivist for long-ago games. Please continue to post comments in here.

            If you watched the Mets play in the Polo Grounds in 1962-3, then you had to have born at least a decade earlier.

            If you remember the Giants and Dodgers moving to the West Coast and appreciated the significance of the moves, then you must be a little bit older …. perhaps 12 to 13. :-)

            Anyway, as baseball devotees, we are all defined by the era in which we were kids and started to seriously follow baseball.

          • Thanks, Neil. I used to feel quite junior when Frank Clingenpeel was part of the conversation. I always enjoy Richard Chester’s recollections, but unlike me, he has much to contribute beside seniority.

          • e pluribus @62, were you a poster back on B-Ref blogs when Frank Clingenpeel contributed?

            I don’t remember your nickname.

          • Just a silent reader back then, Neil, but I appreciated how congenially the generations interacted on the site, as well as the more/less saber-focused participants.

  12. I have a ball from 1978, hit down the third base line by Willie McCovey off Rollie Fingers. It took a bad hop right through the ball boy’s legs, and under the seat next to me. My friend had came back the inning before, and told me to just move over. He kept saying that was HIS ball! It’s still in my cabinet, on display.

  13. On June 12, 1975, I gloved a foul ball of the bat of Eddie Watt, in one of his last few games with the Cubs. (I ALWAYS took my Gene Tennace autograph catchers mitt to the park). It is one of my brightest memories of old Atlanta Stadium. In ’75, i had the section pretty much to myself….

    I have seen many adults, some with gloves, catch balls and give them to kids. The look of joy and admiration is truly amazing. I still carry a catcher’s mitt to the Rome Braves games, but more for “self defense” than to get a keepsake.

    Two years ago, sitting on the first base line, a foul ball was hit “up the elevator shaft”, and came straight down about ten feet to my right. A small child, surrounded by adults was the target for the plummeting missile. Not a one of them had a glove, not that one would have helped, as they EVERY ONE were on their cell phones at the time of the incident. I couldn’t get through the crowd to help him. The child ended up with a broken collar bone and no ball. The look on the dad’s face was pathetic….

    • Early nominee for Comment of the Year. It’s got everything: quirky personal history (I never knew anyone who brought a catcher’s mitt to the stands); a mention of one of the great unsung players of my youth, Fury Gene Tenace; and a rip on the self-phone-obsessed folks who are never quite fully present anywhere they go. Beautiful, Steven Page! (Any relation to Mitchell?)

  14. I had seats at the old Yankee Stadium in the fifth row of the upper deck about the Yankee dugout. It was prime territory for foul fly balls from right handed batters.

    I never got a foul ball and sat in those seats nearly every Sunday, every Opening Day, and every Old Timer’s Day from 1999-2008. I was once almost nailed by one but ducked out of the way and it bounced two rows down. And it always seemed that when I’d give my tickets away, the people in my place would always get Jeter foul balls. Figures.

    Sadly, there is no way I can get foul balls in my current seats (the last row of the upper deck behind the plate).

  15. I have been to games at Fenway, Shea, Camden Yards, the new and old Yankee Stadiums and the new and old Nationals ball parks. I have never come close to getting any kind of batted ball.

    Which is why I will never understand the practice to throwing opposing home run balls back onto the field. If I catch it in foul territory, I have perhaps a once in a lifetime souvenir, but if I catch it in fair territory I am supposed to throw it back? No way.

    If I caught the Ryan Zimmerman walk off home run ball that he hit against my Yankees on my birthday (June 18th) I would still not throw the ball back onto the field.

    • I’m totally with you. Throwing the ball back is a “recent” fan addition that is stupid. It’s worse than the wave. I think many fans do it because they’re bullied into it.

    • My recollection is that throwing the ball back at Wrigley was a longtime tradition. More recently some other fan have adopted it. It bothers me not so much for the act, but for the aesthetic of copying the tradition that is best left for the Cubs fans. I like it for the tradition at Wrigley and don’t like it at all anywhere else.

  16. This past Saturday, I took my 4-year old son to his first game.

    And got my first—his first—foul ball.

    It was at McCoy Stadium, the gorgeous home of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. On a whim, we got tickets down just a few rows behind Will Middlebrooks—I mean third base.

    He saw home runs by Mauro Gomez (oh god, a SHOT), Middlebrooks (an opposite field one that just cleared the fence), and Lars Anderson (who was called up to Boston just a couple days later—my son tells everyone that Lars is now in Boston).

    During the game, Matt Mangini (third baseman for the visititng Durham Bulls launched a liner foul up the line. It hit a seat in the row behind us, bounced forward and struck the seat in front of us, landing on the concrete in our row. Luckily, there were a few empty seats to my right, so I was able to scoot over, grab it, and hand it to my son. He was elated.

    Later, we saw one of the PawSox mascots, Sox the bear. My son went up to have his picture taken with the bear. She grabbed the ball from his hand and took a sharpie. My son had this look on his face like “OH MY GOD THAT’S NOT A SOUVENIR BALL THAT IS A REAL BALL YOU ARE A BEAR WHAT ARE YOU DOING THAT IS FOR PLAYERS ONLY”. So, it says “Sox” on it, but we’ll always be able to tell it apart from other balls for that reason. :)

  17. Thought process of man with ball: Give ball to screaming, whining kid to my left who I don’t know, and in fact has been annoying me all night. Give ball to younger, attractive female I’m with to my right who I know and in fact I’m scheming to sleep with all night, unless that is I don’t give her the ball.

    Good choice, man, good choice.

    (For the record, I would have given the kid the bal, but I understand.)

    • As it turns out, the couple were due to be married this weekend, thus all the lovey-dovey stuff. I think the couple’s gotten a bad rap myself. They are calling for an “apology” from Yanks broadcaster Michael Kay. Whatever, just let it go, folks.

      • They’re demanding an apology? Hmmm, looks like they really are that self-centered!

        The guy looked like he was at least 50, but I couldn’t tell how old his soon-to-be wife is. If she’s young enough, perhaps they’ll have their own screaming 3-year-old shortly.

      • Firstly, now that I’ve finally watched the video, I can’t see anything wrong with the couple’s behavior, either in going for the ball or afterwards.

        Secondly, Michael Kay is a COLOSSAL stuffed shirt/toady. Those terms may sound incompatible, but if you’ve ever seen his sucking-up show on YES, you know what I mean.

        Quick tangent: During tonight’s Yanks/Tigers game, Kay read a trivia question — name the Tigers pitchers who have won both the Cy Young and the MVP in the same year. Paul O’Neill mentioned Denny McLain, but Kay quickly “corrected” him — “he didn’t win the MVP.” O’Neill took for granted that Kay was right, but he was incredulous — “come on, he won 31 games!”

        A short while later, Kay got word from the truck and corrected his correction.

        But hey, just because he doesn’t know any more baseball history than what’s shown on the YES network’s “Yankeehagiography,” that doesn’t mean he’s not a crackerjack expert on social obligations for fans attending a baseball game.

        “Oh, my god. They can’t give it to the kid?!?”

        What an ass. Honestly, he should apologize to them. I think perhaps Mr. Kay has forgotten what it’s like to be a fan in the stands.

        And can someone please tell me what kind of lesson a child learns when anything he cries for is handed to him?

        Nobody took anything away from that boy. Let his parents explain to him why he doesn’t get the ball. End of story.

        I hate to think of a world wherein, if I find a $20 bill under my seat, I’ll be held up to public ridicule unless I give it to a toddler.

  18. #44/ Neil L,

    A number of the ballparks built in the Deadball Era (before 1920) had very short distances (to us) down the lines. This is because since there were very few over-the-fence home runs then, little thought was given to the specific dimensions of the outfield fences. Likewise, the centerfield and power-alley distances were set not for HR distances, but to match the contours of the property.

    • LA, I get all you’ve you said.

      Old ballparks were designed in the deadball era when no one hit the ball out of the park and when there was lots of outfield space.

      So would triples have been bumped up by the configuration of the old-time parks and the fact that the running game ruled in that time?

      • NeilL,

        Triples outnumbered HRrs least 3:1 most of the deadball era; that ratio started going down in 1920, but there weren’t more 3Bs than HRs till 1929.

        I think that ballpark configuration is the main reason, but not the only reason that triples have gradually been declining the last 80 years. I get the feeling (though I cannot prove it) that pre-1930, baserunners were in general much more reckless. I mean not only in base stealing, but also in trying to stretch base hits (such as triples) or advance on long flies.

        I think it took that long for everyone to understand that the live-ball game was here to stay, and small-ball baserunning strategies needed to be used more selectively, instead of in most situations.

  19. Neil,

    The overhang was a later addition to the PG. You can see it (and the shadow it cast on the field) in the last photo on the page.

    Guess who can pull up a You-tube video of Thomson’s shot to see what the configuration was like then. Butn it wasn’t much of a “shot”.

      • That should have been “guess you”, meaning I guess you should be able to find a video of it. Don’t know why I typed “who” – sorry for the confustion.

        Anyway, here’s one:

        You don’t see the flight of the ball, but if you listen closely near the end of the clip, you hear the announcers say that Thomson hit a line drive. So, that would explain why it missed the overhang.

        I remember seeing a different video where Andy Pafko stands in left field facing the outfield fence as he watches the ball leave the yard. And, he’s not looking way up – further indication the ball went out into the lower deck.

        BTW, when I mentioned Thomson’s shot in regard to your surmise about wrapping shots around the foul pole, that was the point – not that Thomson’s shot caught the overhang. The overhang comment was just to indicate that “pop fly” shots, as I think you called them, could be even shorter than suggested by the outfield dimensions.

  20. If you all want some live game baseball action, try Spring Training, especially early on. Crowds aren’t that big. If you hustle even a little bit, you can have a shot at a foul.

    HR’s are often out on outfield berms. Big bats come up, stroll around to the outfield.

    I almost got a Dante Bichette HR at Maryvale. The particulars of the story are contested. My buddy (who got the ball) swears that I overran the coming down the grassy berm. What REALLY happened was, as I slowed to catch the ball, he gives me a shove. (He’s a big guy.) I would have been OK with the shove, but he pushed me out of the way to allow the ball to drop on the ground before picking it up. He let it drop on purpose, “to be sure I’d get the ball.” Didn’t even try for the catch on the fly. Blasphemy!

    • At a Red Sox v Twins spring game during spring break around 1989, four
      of us went.

      Rich Gedman hit 2 homers.

      The four of us walked out with 2 balls that day.

      Another suggestion, support your local minor league teams.

      • I would especially urge folks to support their local independent minor league team, if there is one.

        The affiliated teams are essentially subsidiaries of their MLB parents, so even though attendance may affect whether the team stays put or moves to another city, I feel much less personally invested in their fates.

        It’s not as though our attending affiliated minor-league games will affect the shameful fact that many minor-leaguers don’t even earn a living wage. Salaries are set by the MLB parents.

    • 2 quick autograph stories. Went to a Mets game with my dad in 1977.
      We were standing around the players lot, when someone shouted there’s
      Joe Torre.

      Recently named player manager, about ten of us ran over and were waiting
      around his car when he exited. As we walked with him he signed for everyone.

      At a Yankees Royals game in early 79. we were on the Royals side that day. Before the game I made my way down and got one autograph.

      Later I was heartbroken to find I couldn’t read the name and had not made
      a note of the players number.

      About two years later I looked again and realized the autograph was the
      sensational reliever for KC who had literally burst on the scene since
      our encounter.

      His name…Dan Quisenberry.

  21. When I was about that boy’s age, my worst nightmare was finally going to a game at Wrigley, then catching a Pujols home run ball, (you should all see where this is going by now) and subsequently having it wrestled from me by some large, foul-mouthed, drunken fan who then took it from me and threw it back onto the field, accompanied by boos after it was initially not thrown back and then loud cheers as the fan threw it back.

    …If that ever happens to someone in real life, I will finally proclaim my loss in faith in humanity. For now, my faith in humanity rests in the people who gave the toddler at the Rangers game a ball later on. If the couple that stole the ball gets their 15 minutes of shame… can we give the person who gave up their baseball 15 minutes of fame?

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