The Un-Written Rulebook #1: Foul Balls are for Kids, Not Drunk Bros

Alright, let’s talk about a certain situation that really grinds our gears.

Imagine with us a beautiful, August night featuring 15 games of baseball across the lovely continental US. Sorry we’re not sorry, baseball aficionados of the Great White North, but the Jays are on the road today. You’ll be fine.

Every one of those games is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the universe. Yes, all of them are the best there ever was, no doubt about it.

However, despite the sanctity of each of these 15 events, each will be tainted by the same indescribably horrible moment.

A child, unknowingly, lies in wait for the greatest moment of his young life. He doesn’t know it but the current hitter is about to get jammed by 95 and spray a ball right at him. It will be something that he remembers for the rest of his life.

And here it comes, curling gently right to his seat. Hell, the thing would’ve landed right in his lap if he hadn’t stood up. But our hero wouldn’t stand (er, sit) idly by during this moment of glory. He rises, Rawlings on his left hand, Dodger Dog in his right. The ball covers up the moon as the whole crowd gasps, waiting for this boy to turn into a man by catching his first Major League fly ball.

Aaaaaand then some Affliction tank top wearing bro stands up and catches the damn thing.

This Tool

Congratulations, Captain No Feel, you just ruined someone’s day. This man (to use that word loosely) turns to the rest of fraternity Chai Tea Omega-3 to celebrate his victory, tapping together the IPA brewskis that they snuck into the yard because they can’t go four seconds without one.

Everyone watching on TV knows the scene. The camera, centered on what was once the ball’s flight, holds its frame. On the right half of the screen, 25 year old airheads jump up and down, beating their chests at their latest conquest. But on the other side of your TV set, the adrenaline rush fades from a young boy’s eyes as a once in a lifetime moment is stolen from him. The image of a ball fated for the inside of his own glove’s web plucked out of the air right before him stores in his mind as he sinks disappointedly into his seat.

We’ll cut the reenactment off right here before we start crying. The tears are about to flow like the rivers of Babylon, we know.

For this exact reason, we’ll be the first to scribe this unwritten tenet of the game into a more formal (and, obviously, incredibly official) form: From this moment onward, let it be known that foul balls are for kids. Fans can (and should) react to foul balls for the purposes of self-defense and defense of aforementioned younglings, especially if the speed of the ball dictates this as a necessity. We will even allow for adults to catch balls purely for the sake of enjoying the thrill of the catch if they absolutely can’t restrain themselves. However, once the foul ball has been safely secured, the ball is to be delivered directly to a child.

As if we really needed to, we will explain the reasons why.

“But I paid good money to enjoy this game and this ball is a part of my entertainment!” Yes, you bought that seat and the ball came within your arm’s distance. While we are happy for you, you clearly missed the point we’re about to make. You bought that ticket, you say? Good. Then go buy a ball. You can buy an MLB ball at a sports store for $20 – and it will even come in a shiny plexiglass case, you Neanderthal. Kids don’t have money. The only way they get Major League baseballs is if they catch one or someone hands them one that they caught. If you want to keep one that you caught so badly, buy the kid sitting in front of you a ball.

“The ball chose me!” Yeah, if you were really into the spirit of the game that much, then I wouldn’t have to explain to you why you need to give the ball to a kid. Besides, I guarantee that when you stood up to catch the ball, you blocked the grasp of at least three grade schoolers. That sacred white leather, red seamed orb could have just as easily chosen one of them if you would have let it travel another five feet.

“Wahhhh, but I’m a big, bad adult and finders keepers!!!” How do we say this tactfully?...Ah, here we go. Grow up.

Besides, think about that ball at the end of the day. What is an adult going to do with a ball? Put it on a mantle or desk and never touch it again. Probably forget about it the second they put it down and start doing taxes or whatever.

But when a kid takes home a baseball, their entire world changes. They play with it. They show it to their friends. They talk about it to everyone that they see for the next four months. They physically connect to the man in the uniform that they dream of being one day.

But most importantly, for the rest of their life, that child becomes a baseball fan. And that is more important than any momentary satisfaction that Theta Apple Pie may get out of catching a ball.

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  • I’ve dreamt of catching a home run ball since I was old enough to know what one was. Unfortunately, I’ve only been to 3 major league ball games in my life and didn’t sit in the bleachers for any of them. (I was close enough to home plate last time, though, that I brought my mitt, just in case of a pop up.) I’m 37 and would be just as delighted to catch a ball now as I would have been 30 years ago. The difference is that now, if there’s a wide-eyed kid next to me who can’t quite reach and I happen to wind up with it, you can bet I’m giving it to him.

  • Love the article. Never thought of it quite this way. I must say if I were to catch a baseball, it would be given to my baseball playing nephews ages 13, 11 and 10. You are correct, they mean everything to kids.

    Kathleen Norris
  • Right on! :)


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