Brandon Wetherbee is the host of the You, Me, Them, Everybody talk show. See him Thursday, August 27 at Gibson Guitar Showroom hosting 8×8 and Friday, September 4 at The Wonderland Ballroom.
You’ll tell the story the until the day you die. Remember that if you catch a foul ball, you live with the story. The details may change over time, but the basic facts will remain.
I am a sports fan. I prefer hockey then football then baseball then basketball. The only sport that provides game used mementos is baseball. Dozens of foul balls are common for most Major League Baseball games. If you obtain a foul ball make sure you do it the right way.
The right way to obtain a foul ball, there is a right way, is to catch the ball in the air. The second way is from a deflection that hurt no one else. The third is running to get the ball after it lands in a fan free aisle. That’s it.
Because I enjoy sports games I attended a Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres baseball game. I had very nice seats, the kind where foul balls are prevalent. During the fifth inning I left my seat to get a beer because it’s America and I’m an American. While I was absent a foul ball came to my section. I asked a nice person a few seats over what happened while I was gone. She told me a hard hit ball came to our area, deflected off the stairs behind our seats, ricocheted off a woman’s skull and landed in our aisle. A male rushed to get the ball. He got it. The woman whose head helped calm the ball was gone due to brutal head trauma. She was getting an ice pack from the Washington Nationals staff (I’d like to praise the Nats and other MLB teams for their foul ball treatment for the last few years. They’re efficient, polite and make what could be an scary situation into a good memory). The male with the ball was taking selfies with the bruised, blue ball. Some blue from the seats rubbed off on the ball. It was hit that hard. It ricocheted off a person’s head hard enough to rub blue plastic on it.
I made things uncomfortable. I spoke up to the man with the ball. “Excuse me, did you offer her (the woman now back in her seat with an ice pack on her head) the ball?”
“She got hit in the head.”
“Yeah, I’m a big fan of the pitcher, that’s why I’m here, he means a lot to me.”
I paused. “She got hit in the head.”
The male’s female friends spoke up, “He didn’t hit her in the head!”
I responded, “That’s correct, she got hit in the head with the ball.”
That was our last interaction. For the next two innings one person nursed their bruise with an ice pack while another held a foul ball and said bad things about me under their breath.
This is common. A long time ago I worked a menial job for a Major League Baseball team. I’ve witnessed many grown men obtain foul balls that should never have been theirs. They don’t realize they live with the story and not the ball.
No one cares about the ball. The ball is a physical object that interests no one other than the person that has the ball. If someone is kind enough to ask about the ball, they don’t ask about the ball’s details, they ask about how you got it. The man from Tuesday night’s Nats game will have to tell his friends, family and colleagues he obtained the ball after it was slowed down by crashing into a woman’s skull.
Was I wrong to ask a stranger how he obtained a baseball? Should I have kept my mouth shut to avoid making it uncomfortable? Does a ball from a child’s game really matter? Maybe not, but I’m not the one nursing a bruise from a foul ball. Nor am I a guy taking selfies with an ill-gained ball. I’m just a person that has witnessed grown people getting overexcited and ruining sports for others.
The featured image is two Nationals fans celebrating a Ryan Zimmerman grand slam in the sixth inning of the Tuesday, August 25 Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres game. The person on the left is taking a photo. The person on the right is holding an ice pack in her hair.