Monday, August 17, 2009

Nice Hands Kid

I am speaking of course about the young Texas Rangers fan known as 'CJ'. I wish I could post the actual video here, but Blogger, like the Internet, hates me. So I can only give you the link to the video. Josh Hamilton is at the plate and he rips a foul ball into the higher decks. CJ 'Cool Hand' MacGee, who is sitting with his Pop, leaps up and snags the foul ball. Three pitches later, same batter, another foul ball into the stands. Guess who comes up with it? You got it. CJ 'Hoover' Smith. Ok, Hoover isn't his nickname and maybe 'Cool Hand' isn't either and really, I'm guessing Smith is not his surname, nor is MacGee. But again, I digress.
The crowd goes freakin' nuts as does the young Texan in question. Remarkable really. Not only will CJ life forever in the highlight reel, but he may very well end up as the answer to a trivia question in Rangers baseball lore. The odds of catching a foul ball is like 1 in 10,000. So catching two, off the same batter in the same at bat is pretty freakin' amazing. Let me call my friends at MIT. They can crunch the numbers. I worked all day.

Foul balls are a part of baseball. A chance for the fan to go home with a souvenir. Of course the chances of catching one are like, 1 in 10,000, so his feat is pretty amazing. Most times they bounce harmlessly off seats or off of other fans hands before landing in your beer. They often times have interesting stories attached to them. Some examples here.....

Although there are no official records for foul balls, some written accounts say the mark belongs to Hall of Famer Luke Appling who, according to the accounts, fouled off 24 pitches from the New York Yankees' Red Ruffing in one at-bat in 1940 before drawing a walk. Stats guru Bill James doesn't buy that story, though, and says Roy Thomas, who played in the National League from 1899 to 1911, has the record with 22 foul balls in one at-bat.

On Aug. 17, 1957, Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn of the Philadelphia Phillies fouled off a pitch that struck Alice Roth, wife of Philadelphia Bulletin sports editor Earl Roth, breaking her nose. As Roth was being helped from the stands, Ashburn fouled off another pitch, striking Roth as she lay on a stretcher. She was not seriously injured.

Leading, 3-0, and five outs from reaching their first World Series in 58 years, the Chicago Cubs watched spectator Steve Bartman reach for a foul ball, deflecting it away from left fielder Moises Alou. Given new life, Luis Castillo drew a walk, starting an eight-run rally that propelled the Florida Marlins to the 2003 National League championship, and earning Bartman infamy in Chicago. Alou said this spring he doubts he could have caught the ball. Bartman was lead out of the stadium because, well; every Cubs fan in the place wanted him dead. He received death-threats for months after his act of idiocy.

Two years ago, Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons fouled a pitch in the ninth inning of a game in Baltimore, striking his wife Laura in the ribs.

When former Dodgers catcher Toby Hall was playing for Tampa Bay, he went into a mid-May series in Kansas City, Mo., batting .326, having struck out only four times in April. But after hitting a 9-year-old boy with a foul ball in his second at-bat against the Royals, Hall struck out — and fanned three more times over the next two days. He hit only .224 over the next six weeks and didn't recover until after the mid-July All-Star

In April, Susan Rhodes of Los Angeles, sitting four rows behind the first base dugout at Dodger Stadium, suffered a concussion and facial injuries when a wooden bat swung by Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies shattered, sending part of it into the stands. And last summer, first base coach Mike Coolbaugh of the double-A Tulsa Drillers was killed when he was hit in the head by a foul ball during a game.

So there you have it. Another rambling recount of a young fan , CJ 'No I've got it!' Winklemeyer, and some other interesting, useless facts about foul balls.

1 comment:

Jud said...

I never knew all of that about foul balls. I myself have never snagged any in my few trips to MLB parks and the minor league affairs.