Sunday, May 6, 2012

If You Catch A Ball - Keep It Or Give To A Kid?

Rangers fan poses with a ball she caught while kid cries.
This is a tough question that comes up every season - if you catch a ball at a game, are you obligated to give it to a nearby kid?

The whole scenario popped up again recently when a Rangers fan excitedly caught a ball and posed for a picture that would be posted on Facebook and emailed to friends all over.  A perfectly fair and understandable response. That is except for this...

A little Ranger fan needs a nap or is upset he didn't get the ball
Next to the couple was a toddler that thought he had a bead on the ball and was going to catch it. The couple was then vilified by the Yankees' announcer (no shock there) because they were oblivious to the crying kid and didn't toss him the ball. The happy ending for the kid is someone from the Rangers got a ball to him and all was well.

But, the judgypants storm around the couple swirled. How could they do that to a kid? How could they be so oblivious? People even questioned the age difference between the couple. The web went into attack mode. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a lifelong Tribe fan that *finally* caught my first ball a few years ago.  In all my years of Tribe games, I never caught a ball, found a ball or had an adult give me a ball. But, things were different then. Playground monkey bars were on blacktop, not over wood chips.

So, would I give a kid a ball? That depends. If it was before I ever had an actual game ball, nope. Sorry. If I caught a ball, I was going to keep it. Does that make me a jerk? Maybe.

Now, after being on the spring training circuit for a few years, I have 6 or 7 balls. I like to have the players sign them when I am out there as a memento. So, if I caught a random ball now, and I noticed a kid near me, odds are likely I would toss it to them. But if it were a Kipnis home run ball, I don't know that I could. A Thome home run ball? Good luck prying that out of my cold dead clutch.

At batting practice, there is an unwritten rule that if a player tosses a ball up and there is a kid near you, they mean for it to go to the kid. I get that and I don't fight that one. In all honesty, as a kid I  would have loved to have got a ball, and if you told me that it was from Super Joe Charboneau, I would have cried, wet myself and then passed out. 

Along those same lines, my dad never caught a ball either, so when I got one for him at spring training, I was daughter of the year. We both had a ball and wrangled for autographs and his baseball is now one of his prized possessions. Would I change reaching for a ball? Absolutely not.

Before anyone thinks I am a total jerk, I will let kids stand in front of me for autographs and I will freely let them use my sharpie. I will even grab their ball or pink fuzzy whale and reach it out for a player to sign. And yes, I actually had to help a little boy who wanted nothing more than Travis Hafner to sign his fuzzy pink whale. Much to his credit, Hafner signed it.

I don't have kids, so I don't know if that would change my view. Interestingly, not too long ago, a mom, while holding her baby caught a ball. Memes popped up everywhere about multitasking. Ha. But if you notice in the pic, she is clearly reaching over a couple kids. 

Do I blame her? No. I'm impressed she was able to not only reach out for it, but she did so without dropping the kid. This was applauded, unlike the dad that dropped his daughter reaching for a ball, which was condemned (as it should).

Whew. Try explaining to your wife and 5.5 million people how you could drop your daughter for a ball.

If you are a hardcore fan, waiting for decades to catch a ball, is it wrong that you do so and keep it instead of giving it to a kid you don't know? I don't know. I like to think it isn't. Well, maybe if you are Steve Bartman it might be, but I would rather people let me merge in morning traffic than worry about whether I am a moral monster because I didn't toss a ball to their kid.

What do you think? What would you do?


  1. No way in hell. I have never caught a ball. I won't mow down a kid to get one or anything but if I catch it clean it's mine.

  2. If you catch the ball, it's your decision. I don't think it matters either way. The kid will get over it.