Three days ago Reds first baseman Joey Votto was reaching into the crowd for a foul ball when a fan had an idea of his own in catching the ball and preventing Votto from making the play. Probably the worst thing out of all of it was the fact that this was a home game for the Reds and the man looking to score the ball had on a Reds shirt. Votto looked at the fan, grabbed him by the Cincinnati Reds logo on his shirt and looked at him in the eye with disgust as if to say “Dude! we’re on the same team!” Was Votto maybe out of character here? Maybe, but guess what? He’s totally right in acting the way he did.
I’ve been fortunate over my life being able to collect probably close to a dozen balls from a Major League game from either foul balls, or going to a game early and catching some homers hit during batting practice. Taking home a ball used in a game is one of the coolest pieces of memorabilia there is, but don’t let it get in the way of harming the game itself.
One of the most infamous moments in baseball history had to do with interfering with the ball in play. Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, Cubs fan Steve Bartman leaned over the railing in left field and got crossed up with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou who didn’t end up making the catch. The Florida Marlins went on to win that game, and the series and the Cubs are still chasing a World Series title to this day. While not all events are as severe as this one was, it is a shining example of what can happen if you interfere with a ball in play.
There have been other incidents with home runs as well. People reaching over the yellow line in the outfield to snatch a homer only for it to be ruled fan interference and they get asked to leave the stadium. I’m asking you to please let the men on the field whose job it is to catch these fly balls to be left alone.
It’s so fascinating to me how people freak out over stuff being thrown into the crowd at games and can be circled back to foul balls. Whether it’s a T-shirt or toothpaste, people love getting stuff and foul balls are no different. We’ve all seen it before, the grown people taking foul balls away from kids and going nuts like they’re an eight year old on Christmas Day.
Yes this is a game, but there are professionals on the field looking to help their respective team.
So next time you’re sitting down the first or third base line, or maybe you have seats in the outfield, remember, it’s better to not score a ball then it is to end up on SportsCenter the next day with the entire country feeling pity or anger for you.