The Fundamentals of Catching a Foul Ball or Home Run

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After reading the title of this piece, one might logically be expecting some sort of insight into successfully catching and securing a souvenir at a ballgame. However, in this case, you would be mistaken. What follows is a brief account of how I completely and unequivocally failed in this very task in front of a rather large group of people. Actually, there is not much to this story beyond my own embarrassment.

A friend and I were attending a Cubs/Brewers game at Miller Park in Milwaukee. If memory serves, it was the Cubs half of the fourth inning, and Anthony Rizzo was at the plate. We were seated at club level just beyond third base, and were in the first row of our section. Rizzo hit a relatively high foul ball that just so happened to find me. Unfortunately, I was engaged in conversation and did not turn until the ball was on me. It struck me directly in the chest, shattering my sunglasses that were resting on my shirt, and bouncing away into the camera well nearby where another fan retrieved it.

Before we continue, I feel it is necessary to explain my thoughts on people who fail to pay attention at a ballgame. I have never understood how someone can pay for a ticket to a ballgame, and then proceed to ignore the action on the field. Excessive conversation is one thing, but the gratuitous texting that takes place at ballgames is quite another. Next time you are at a ballgame, take a quick peek around and see how many people in your section are looking down at their various technological devices, provided you are not doing so yourself. Now I have been guilty of both texting and talking, but have always managed to keep an eye on the action. However, in this instance, I was talking and not watching, and became what I despise.

After it happened, my initial embarrassment gave way to anger and frustration. I have been to quite a few ballgames on many levels, but have never caught a foul ball. If I had actually been paying attention, I could have simply stood up and caught the ball. What a triumphant moment it would have been! My hand to eye coordination is usually adequate enough to make a play; in contrast to some folks you see flailing about helplessly when a ball is hit towards them. This would have been a relatively easy play, as this was a pretty high foul ball, as opposed to a line drive.

Anyway, we chuckled about it the rest of the game, and had a few more drinks to drown my sorrows. As a Cub fan, I did endure some good-natured ribbing from some Brewer fans we had been conversing with throughout the game as well.

I am a pretty good sport for the most part, and thought I handled the entire scene fairly well. But over the next few days, as the substantial bruise on my chest served as a constant reminder of my shame, one thought overwhelmed me. It occurred to me that this was likely my best chance to catch a ball at an MLB game, and statistically speaking, the odds are rather long that it will happen again. I blew it, and it really bums me out.

I have not been compelled to tell many people about this ballpark indignity until now. I thought that perhaps I could achieve some catharsis by writing about it.

Nope. Not so much.

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Posted on August 5, 2013, in 2013. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am happy to say I don’t feel your pain, but I will add I can identify with the pain of being close but no cigar. On the other hand my brother got two home-run balls, one by Sal Bando, and the other a Reggie Jackson shot in the same playoff game back in the 1971 final against Baltimore in Oakland. I suspect that was kind of a rare feat which I attribute to his being an athletic 16 year old at the time. I reached for Jackson’s but his reach was longer, darn! As for Bando’s he nearly was thrown out for run down the stairs of the bleachers to behind the left field fence. Just my luck.

  2. Wow! That is just crazy good luck for your brother. And a playoff game too. Very cool.

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