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The Semi-Sad Saga of the Only Foul Ball I Ever Got at a Game

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[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site (although he’s still writing his weekly Substack column). Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month.]

Good Thursday morning, Uni Watchers!

Today is August 31st, which means Paul’s annual sabbatical is almost over, and I will return to weekends again next month. I’ll have more to say at the end of today’s post, but I want to say a big “THANKS” to all the readers who’ve been following along all month, and the commenters who’ve been insightful and generally great in the comments section. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month as much as I have bringing you the daily content.

Now then.

Over the years, I’ve been to hundreds of professional baseball games — mostly the Mets, both in Shea and in their new corporate home. I’ve been to playoff games (including the Mets first ever post-season win in their new digs, in 2015, on their way to a magical run to the World Series). I was lucky enough to catch that game with Shannon Shark, Jon Springer and Paul. In fact, since the new park opened in 2009, I’ve seen more games with Paul than anyone else, and we’ve sometimes been joined by readers and “Mets” guys (like Greg Prince and Matt Silverman), the immortal Todd Radom, and we also got to spend some time pre-game with (then) Mets Radio Color guy Wayne Randazzo. We’ve always caught at least one game a season (no matter how poorly the team has been faring), and we got together again this past July.

Paul actually wrote all about that, noting how our conversations frequently involve — for obvious reasons — uniforms. But it’s not all we discuss.

At that game — and I’m not sure what prompted it, but probably a foul ball that came perilously close to reaching our section — I recalled Paul’s absolutely fantastic think-piece from 2022 in which he expressed his thoughts about foul ball etiquette, and whether or not one should give a foul ball one gets at a game to a nearby kid.

I said to Paul, “I know you wrote that you never got a foul ball, but I did. One. At Shea. I’ll never forget that game.”

I proceeded to tell Paul the tale of how I came to acquire a foul ball and how I’d never come particularly close, either before or after, to ever getting another one. With a wink and a nod, I told Paul “if I get a foul ball tonight, I’m gonna give it to YOU.” He chuckled and said “thanks,” but also said, “you should share that story during your August run!”

It’s a long-ish story, but I’ll try to keep it short-ish.

First, a bit of a set-up. If you look at the picture of me (in 1989, dontcha know) at the top of the page, you’ll notice a couple things — not the least of which is that I’m not in the ballpark, but an alleyway. I’m also holding a Coors (in a coozy), wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt, and sitting on the back of my 1966 Pontiac Tempest. Also, I have a lot more hair. But the important thing here is where the car is parked.

Back in the the mid-80s to the early-90s I went to a LOT of games (sometimes as many as 25 a year), and both tickets and parking — while considerably less then than now — still weren’t what one would consider cheap. As a high school, then college, student, finally just making my way in the world, money was a big consideration, especially if I was going to a couple dozen games a year. So, to “save” on expenses, I frequently scalped tickets and parked not in the Shea Stadium parking lot, but just across the street in the section of Flushing/Willets Point that was home to lots of chop-shops.

It was seedy to say the least. I didn’t take the following pictures, but it was generally not the place one would think to park. My buddies and I never had any problems. But this is pretty much what that area looked like:

As you can see in the first shot, even after the Mets built their new home, the area was still as bad as ever (although that’s changing now that plans are underway to construct a world-class MLS stadium on the site of the former chop-shops).

Anyhoo. Whether I or one of my buddies drove, we almost always parked down those alleys and walked across the Shea parking lot to the Stadium. On the day in question, I was with my best buddy, and we immediately scalped tickets (maybe $5 apiece?) in the Shea lot and proceeded to our seats, which were somewhere in the upper deck, behind home plate.

In 1989, the Mets were still the best team in town, having won the World Series in ’86, and gone to Game 7 of the NLCS against the Dodgers (who’d end up winning the World Series a week later) in 1988. Shea was often packed, and this was a Saturday afternoon game. July 8 was the date, and the Mets were playing the Cincinnati Reds (who themselves would win the World Series the following year).

I don’t recall all the details, but the Mets jumped out to an early lead and were pitching a shut-out, behind David Cone.

In the fifth inning, up 5-0, (then) phenom Gregg Jefferies fouled one off straight at me and my buddy. We were in the upper deck, but in a row with a walkway in front of us. I didn’t actually catch the ball on the fly, but it bounced off the walk and I caught it on the first bounce. A hundred (or so) games I’d been to, and this was my first ever foul ball.

Seated next to me were two young kids (maybe 7 or 8), and as soon as I snagged that foul, one of the kids said to me “Hey mister, can I have the ball?” He wasn’t rude or demanding, and clearly as excited as I was, but … and I’ll never forget this … I said, “I’ve been to a ton of games in my life and I’ve never gotten a foul ball. If I ever get another one, I’ll give it away, but I’m keeping this one.”

He seemed disappointed, but too bad. As it turns out, later on during the game, the ball — which I’d put into my pocket — actually became dislodged while cheering on a fight between the Reds and Mets, and I had to scramble to retrieve it. The kid sitting next to me actually dove for the loose ball, but I was too quick. Tough luck, kid!

Oh yeah. Aside from the ass-kicking we were putting on the Reds, I also got to see a good old-fashioned brew-ha-hah.

By the eighth inning, the Mets were cruising, 7-0. Now, remember that back in the mid/late 80s, the Mets had a lot of “swagger” and ended up in several brawls over the years. One of the Reds’ “Nasty Boys,” Rob Dibble, decided he’d had enough losing, and absolutely CLOCKED Tim Teufel in the back with a purpose pitch, and predictably, chaos ensued…

So, finally the game ended, with the Mets winning but giving up a few garbage runs in the ninth. My buddy and I walked back to my car, where I had one of those disposable cameras (this is, obviously, loooooong before cell phones) and had him take a pic of me with the ball. I hadn’t really looked at closely until then: it felt different, unlike the crappy balls I’d used during my little league days. It had a big smudge on some of the ink (from the contact and subsequent foul liner), and something I wasn’t used to seeing: Bill White’s signature — remember, this was back when the two leagues operated independently of one another. I was proud of my “souvenir.”

So, what became of this prized possession, you may ask. About two or so weeks later, I decided to have a catch with a different friend in the street. My normally quite athletically-inclined friend somehow managed to make a very wild throw, which sailed over my head…

…and down the block…

…and into the sewer.

And that was the ignominious end to the only foul ball I ever got.

If I am ever fortunate enough to get another foul ball, I probably won’t keep it. Not if there’s a deserving youngster nearby. But if I hung onto it, I’d definitely not ever play catch with it either.

Any of you folks ever catch a foul ball? Did you keep it? If you did, what did you do with it after you got it back home? Who has a fun ballpark story they’d like to share? Please let us know down in the comments below.



Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Chris Hickey.

The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).

Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):

Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.



Guess the Game(s) from the Uniform(s)

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

This being my last weekday (and last lede article for about nine days), I’m going to run several of these — since both Jimmy & Chris loaded me up!

First up is one from Jimmy Corcoran


Next up is one from Chris Hickey


Then another from Jimmy:


And finally, one more from Chris:


Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.



Too Good for the Ticker

Got an e-mail (one of many, lol) from Jimmy Corcoran a couple days ago which contained the above photograph and the subject line: “Have you ever been hypnotized by a helmet? North Texas State.”

In the body he wrote, “Talk about a helmet that pops! When you watch this 1974 newsreel you can’t take your eyes off the helmets, they are mesmerizing.”

I think you’ll agree that (1) they are, and (2) this is just too good for the Ticker.

Thanks Jimmy!



And finally...

…that’s going to do it for me — for today and for the month of August.

I hope everyone has enjoyed my time at the helm, but I’m MORE than happy to hand the keys to the store back to Paul (who will probably be posting an article later today!).

I have too many people to thank for helping me out this month, but special double-plus-thanks go out to (in no particular order): Walter Helfer, Chris Diamond, Leo Strawn, Matthew Drake, Chris Hickey and, of course, Jimmy Corcoran. Thanks also to all the Tickerers (Alex Hider and Lloyd Alaban) and especially to Jamie Rathjen and Anthony Emerson, who not only did their Ticker duty with aplomb, but also contributed a pair of lede articles as well. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few folks — and my apologies in advance for so doing.

And of course, thanks to Paul for creating this fantastic blog and community, and for once again giving me this forum to bring Uni Watching to you all.

And readers — thanks to you for your support as well. You’re all aces!!!

With that…I return UW to Paul, and I’ll catch you guys the weekend after this as we kick off yet ANOTHER season of Sunday Morning Uni Watch — Saturday (Sept. 9) will catch us all up on all the NCAA Football action that’s already taken place, and will take place this long weekend, and Sunday (Sept. 10) we’ll hit the ground running with all the uni-action for Week 2.

See ya on the 9th!



Comments (77)

    GTGBTS – January 29, 1985 – Minnesota North Stars (4) vs New York Islanders (4) @ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

    What a 70s scoreboard, though. And I don’t mean that as a compliment, either. Woof!

    Hats off to you, Nat!
    Only took 726 games for Trottier to get there – one of the fastest all-time.
    Some numerology…#19 was the 19th player to reach 1000 pts, and fellow ‘grand-man’ Steve Yzerman considered Trottier his favourite player and chose to wear #19 in his hono(u)r.

    I always wondered what early 80s Phil looked like.

    The closest I ever came was my dad stuck his arm up at a Phillies game and the ball hit his hand and it was red the rest of the day.

    Speaking of which, shortly after the chop shops were removed, my dad and I were at Citi Field and I started telling him the story of NYC pushing them out and saying “Hey, you can go to this spot in the Bronx” as if that’s next door, and the Mets beginning to balk at having their own mixed-use complex there. He was looking at me in disbelief at the Delta Club as we were eating. (As if saying “Citi Field” and “Delta Club” aren’t ridiculous in and of themselves.)

    Now, we can add how NYCFC, whose fan base is in the Bronx and Westchester because of their home at Yankee Stadium, are moving to Queens.

    Is that too much for this early hour?

    Phil, nicely done. It has been a fun month. Take a bow.

    And anything would be better than those chop shops near the new Shea. Recall seeing those when I lived an easy walk away from the park. They were almost as big an eyesore as your photo make them out to be.

    GTGFTU No. 4: Carolina Hurricanes-New York Islanders … No. 44 in the white sweater is Jay Harrison, and that looks like one of the Isles’ alt sweaters – not one of their better efforts – worn during their unfortunate stint of playing home games in Brooklyn. Can’t nail down the exact date.

    Not Brooklyn. The Isles had, thankfully, retired the diamond-side unis in 2014, and didn’t move in to the Rusty Turd until 2015.

    Hadn’t heard the Rusty Turd before, but I’ve seen it so I believe it.

    I stand corrected. Was in Uniondale and prior to 2015. That boils it down to the 2013-14 and 2014-15 because that’s when those ugly road sweaters appeared for the Hurricanes (and the home ones weren’t much better).

    I can nail it down further. #16 for the Isles is Peter Regin, who only played for the Isles in the 2013-14 season, and Harrison did not play in the January 4, 2014 game at the Coliseum, so that leaves October 19, 2013. Hurricanes 4, Islanders 3.

    So close Gabe, but “Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”…and maybe curling?, but not in GTGFTU. Rob S gets the goal – you, the assist ; )
    Choosing a photo with the logos mostly obscured might have made this one tougher, and I do apologize to the comm-uni-ty for showcasing that very, very awful Isle-Wear.

    Phil thanks for the August contributions! August gets a bad reputation for the lead into the “unofficial” end of Summer. Vacations end. Schools start. You make August something to look forward to. Enjoyed everyday. All 31!

    Phil, great month as always (you are a hell of a spot starter). Based on the parking situation, I was guessing that your car might have been towed or stolen/chopped. Although losing the ball is a tragedy, I was expecting worse. Having worked for the Mets the last two Spring Trainings down here at PSL, I’ve seen a ton of fowl balls, kids seem to do alright without the adults patronizing them.

    GTGFTU #1 – Houston Oilers v. Cincinnati Bengals at Riverfront Stadium, September 24, 1995. I narrowed it down first to 1995-1996 because of the Oilers’ white pants with the white jersey and the Bengals’ uni design, then determined it to be 1995 because of the Oilers’ Wilson Staff uniforms – 1995 was the only season they wore the W/S shield. Oilers 38, Bengals 28.

    #1 and #3 are my prime examples that most teams can’t pull off the white/white/white look.

    Phil loves this Oilers kit because it’s “perfect.” It’s *too* perfect for me. And with light blue numbers, the white is overwhelming… especially on a sunny day.
    Ditto for the Chargers. These days their numbers are a lot lighter than when this photo was taken. The gold pants cut down on the glare. Maybe they could get away with white pants back then, but I’m sure glad they had the gold ones. They’re absolutely essential now.

    Yes! I chose the picture because I went to Arizona with Darryl Lewis and Chuck Cecil and knew Chuck back in my U of A days.

    At some point, I need to dig up a scoreboard pic I’ve got that I believe would make for a great GTGFTS.

    Thanks for another great month, Phil!

    Just 2 weeks ago I almost got my first foul ball at a AA game in Richmond, VA. The ball came right at me and popped in and out of my hands. I didn’t have a glove and I guess the spin was too much despite trying to use both hands. I’ll NEVER forgive myself. I think I saved the baby behind me so there’s the silver lining – we both live to catch a foul some other day.

    Another story from going to a Triple-A Richmond Braves game as kid, maybe 3rd grade. I was at a game with my dad and friend Drew. We were somewhere behind home plate pretty far up and drew was sitting on the aisle steps. Dad calls Drew back to his seat and out of the aisle so he’s not in anybody’s way or causing safety issues or anything. Well wouldn’t you know it if the next pitch wasn’t a screaming foul ball that nearly cracked the concrete step Drew was just sitting on about 45 seconds prior. We all sort of had an adrenaline rush reaction similar to hitting your funny bone.

    I used to intern with the AAA Charlotte Knights before they moved into their new stadium about 10 years ago. I have a whole bin full of practice balls and game balls (Phil, I’ll play catch with the practice balls, but not usually the game balls), but this month in Richmond was my first shot at getting a ball as a spectator.

    I’ve never caught a foul ball, but I was lucky enough to have Corey Koskie toss me one at the end of the inning.
    Mariners @ Blue Jays, July 2005. My memory tells me that Adrian Beltre grounded out to Koskie, who threw him out at first (putout by Eric Hinske). But looking at the box scores from that series now, such a play never happened! In fact, Koskie didn’t play at all in the series.

    The best part was what really happened, which can’t be verified by box scores. My friend and I were lucky enough to get seats right behind the Jays’ dugout. Koskie (or whoever it really was – maybe he had come off the bench to retrieve the ball) tossed it over the netting and it landed about 8 seats to my right, about halfway between myself and some older guy (I was 10 at the time). I dropped my pizza on the ground and sprinted over to grab it. When I came back, I discovered my pizza had landed face down on the dirty Rogers Centre concrete. Oh well, it was definitely worth it!

    That ball has since been signed by a number of Blue Jays, including John Hattig, the first MLBer to hail from Guam.

    If I ever caught a foul ball, I’d definitely get some photos with it (much easier in this day and age than in the 80’s with disposable cameras), but holding on to something that’s just going to clutter up my house is something that I’m not too inclined to do. A lucky, nearby kid will be the beneficiary of my inclination to be clutter free.

    @ PH: great end to a fine month, sir. And to be fair, you’ve aged far better than most, so congrats.
    I have one souvenir ball, a home run Jayson Werth hit into the bleachers at Citizens Bank Park almost 15 years ago. It’s somewhere in my basement, probably. My nephew got a ball Bryce Harper threw to him in my same bleacher seats after Bryce joined the Phillies. Anything I catch now can go to a kid. But I remember being maybe 12 at a Phillies game with my dad, who sat on the aisle in the lower deck behind 3rd base. A ball came screaming our way and he just sat there. I couldn’t get over or around his long legs and I watched someone else get my souvenir. I stayed mad for a while over it.

    Never snagged a foul ball, but my Pop once got two in the same game. It was a late 70s Pirates-Mets doubleheader at Shea. He caught one on the fly and the other rebounded off of a seat.

    Talk about a “mic drop” performance today from Phil!! Epic story on the foul ball. My first foul ball experience was likely in ‘79 at old Cleveland Stadium. I remember my Dad snagging one bare-handed near the Tribe dugout…no “safety-nets” in those days. I was mesmerized. Later that same game, Wayne Garland tossed me a ball from the dugout. I’ve had plenty of near-misses since, particularly HR’s over the right-center wall at Jacobs Field (now Progressive…ugh). But I do recall catching a Mark McGwire bomb during BP at the top of the bleachers, one row from the giant scoreboard during the HR race in ‘98. I still have that ball. *Side note: McGwire HR’d in each game of that short, 2-game interleague series (#’s 34 and 35, in his march to 70 that season…tainted or not, still an impressive feat).

    One foul ball for me. Buddy and I heard about this new phenom pitcher for the Akron Aeros named C.C. Sabathia so we went to his debut game.

    Sitting in the outfield on the third base line where the seats cut back across the field. Front row seats. No memory of who hit it, but a foul ball one hopped right at me. I still have the ball in my collection of memorabilia.

    Great story Phil–nice capper for a terrific month at the helm.

    My only foul ball close encounter was at a Syracuse AAA game almost 20 years ago. (I started to type a few years ago before realizing that it was summer 2006!!)

    I was a college student there with my family, sitting in the hot zone along the third base line about 20 rows back. A few rows in front of us was a dad with his son (probably 9 or 10) and two rows in front of him was a guy sitting by himself. We were scattered among a bunch of empty seats.

    Anyway, at one point, a foul ball comes rocketing right at the kid– he valiantly sticks his glove up to catch it, but the ball deflects off his gloved hand, smacks him hard in the collarbone, and rolls to the guy sitting by himself. He picks it up and pockets it. Meanwhile, the kid starts crying and everyone starts yelling at the guy with the ball to give it to the kid. He pretended not to hear us. It was a bummer.

    Kudos on a month well done, Phil! My only foul ball was at the HHH Metrodome for a noon late season makeup games the Twins had with (already forgotten opponent). Earlier in 1998 the Twins offered a promotion where if you bought 4 Upper Deck general admission season tickets, you got a Kirby Puckett autographed bat. Someone must have bought dozens of those packets to get the back, then offered the tickets back to the Twins to donate to nonprofits.

    After offering those seats to program participants, getting no takers that day, I caught a few innings at lunch. Vast wasteland of empty seats let me sit behind home plate, and a foul landed three rows behind me. Given that I was basically alone, I could just saunter up and get my first–and only–foul ball.

    No drama, and hardly earned, but a foul ball it was that went home with me!

    Sorry to hear about the foul ball, Phil. Glad the kid who asked was polite, but also glad you stood your ground.

    I believe I only ever got one foul ball. I did give it to a deserving youngster. It was my son, because he learned a valuable lesson in foul ball etiquette.

    We were at a minor league game in left field, where the seats were angled towards the plate. Every time a left handed hitter was up, my glove was at the ready (Yes, as an adult I took my glove any time we sat in line drive territory, or if I had a chance at the only ball I’d want to keep: a home run ball).

    For most of the game, a bunch of kids, whose parents were seated elsewhere, stood in front of us at the railing. EVERY ball that was hit to left (including ones in fair ground), these kids would jump and wave wanting the ball thrown to them. Telling them to sit down was useless, looking for their parents or an usher was equally useless so I sat and stewed while I noticed my son was getting antsy. He wanted to join them and I replied, “Those kids don’t belong there and neither do you. Stay here, and if you’re meant to get a foul ball you’ll get one.”

    Towards the end of the game a ball comes down the line. The other kids do their usual clown act, and the left fielder tosses the ball, which sails over their hands and right into my glove. I didn’t even have to raise my hand. I gave it to my son, thanking him for staying in his seat. Had he not been with me, you can be sure I would not have given it to any of those other kids.

    Thanks for the yeoman effort, Phil. Well done.

    As for foul balls … I had a hard liner hit my hand solidly as I reached for it along the third base line off the bat of Jon Neise at PNC Park in 2010. Smacked it squarely, but, alas, my reflexes were too slow and it didn’t stick. Some kid got it off the bounce down the aisle steps.

    To your point: no way I’d give it up to a kid I didn’t know. I’ve been to hundred+ games in my life, and I’m still looking for my first one.

    Live with the disappointment, kiddos … it builds character. No one owes a stranger’s kid at games anything, because when you go to games, we’re all kids at heart.


    Great story Phil and great month of coverage ! I’ve been to countless baseball games and consider myself the kryptonite of foul balls! Glad you were able to snag one, even if you lost it down the drain!

    I caught a batting practice home run ball hit by Ken Griffey Jr. back in 2007! I was in the right field bleachers in Milwaukee. The ball cleared the fence, bounced off the patio below us, and I got it on one bounce.

    And in 1999, I was alone in the bleachers before a Mets-Brewers game at County Stadium. Mets OF Darryl Hamilton said “hey kid” and tossed me a ball. That was awesome.

    GTGFTS pic #3:
    Newly acquired Mike Garrett #25 running the ball against his old team on Nov. 29, 1970. KC won the game 26-14. Garrett changed his number to 20, the number he wore as a Chief, the following season.

    No, the game was played in 1971, that is Jerry Levias #25, in the background #17 is Elmo Wright, he was a rookie in 1971 for Kansas City

    I didn’t even pay attention to Elmo in the background. Oh, well, at least all of my facts relating to the 1970 game were correct.

    Well to be honest, from 1968-71 the games played in the bright sun looked the same. But in 1972 the Chargers changed from bolts on the pants to stripes.

    My only foul ball was at the Expos stadium in a game that actor John Ritter threw the first pitch
    It was late August 1997 against the Cardinals.
    I don’t remember pitcher or hitter thanks to Molson’s Le Boss.

    I do remember sitting spread out over a couple of rows with my friends.
    The attendance was sparse on the 3rd base side of the field when a foul ball entered my airspace

    I couldn’t get to it in time, so it hit the stairs and rolled down my aisle.
    I bent down, picked it up and held it triumphally like it caught the final out of the World Series.
    Boos rained down on me.
    Confused I sat down next to my closest friend who told me what happened

    Turns out as I bent down to pick up the ball, my foot came up and connected with the face of a young boy.
    I thought I had kicked a seat, but it was his face.
    He had run crying back to his parents, hence the booing.

    I did give him the ball and an apology

    I once caught a foul ball. My grandparents had retired to Florida (like so many New Yorkers do) and we were visiting them. Grandpa had become a big Clearwater Phillies fan, and with my father, brother, and me, we went to some Florida State League games in April 1993.

    We had front row seats. And when a fight broke out on the field, I reached over the railing to pick up the ball, which had rolled loose and was just sitting there. My first-ever ball!

    But a security guard came over and said I couldn’t keep it. After some wrangling (he offered to let me keep it if I’d let *him* sign it, which in retrospect I should have done), I got to keep the ball, but that’s not the same thing as *catching* one.

    So two days later we’re seeing the Clearwater Phillies and the Dunedin Blue Jays, April 11, 1993, and there were only about 560 people in the park. Acres of empty seats.

    Today is the day I’m going to get a ball. I’ve got my glove!

    I leave the family in the good seats to have a whole section to myself down the right field line.

    And no balls come anywhere near me… until… Carlos Delgado (who would later be a Met; this Dunedin team was pretty stacked) hits one that starts hooking right in my direction. I mean, *right at* me. All I can think of is that even if I drop it, there’s nobody around, so it’ll still be mine. But… I get the glove up. I close the glove around the ball. Caught!

    Never even had to move. What a memory; I’ll never forget it. Not just getting the ball, but the thrill of catching a ball hit off a soon-to-be-major leaguer’s bat, with a crazy hook, and I didn’t drop it! :)

    I’ve been lucky get a few balls at various games, but the only MLB foul ball I got was a foul ball I snagged off the bat of Ron Gant down the line at a spring training game in Dodger Town. It still sits on a shelf in my office.

    But my best foul ball story is I was at a Cedar Rapids Kernels (Class A affiliate of the Twins) game with my son who was too young to sit through a whole ball game. But it was a chance to get out of the house a on a nice night and at least see some baseball. At the time, the Kernels had a bunch of inflatables behind a concession stand on the third base side, so quite a ways off the field. And, if you were there, you couldn’t really see the field of play. Anyway, I had by back to the field and all of a sudden, THWACK! Something hit me square in the head. I pretty quickly realized it was a ball but couldn’t orient myself fast enough to see it. Some kid grabbed it and ran off while I made sure I wasn’t bleeding or really hurt. A park attendant came up to me to make sure I was OK and once I assured I was, they left. So I got drilled in the head and didn’t even get the ball.

    I also have a foul ball story which isn’t an all together happy memory. I was at a Winnipeg Goldeyes game about 20 years ago sitting at the end of a section next to a tunnel. There was a railing beside me on my left. I was facing away from the play when I heard the crack of the bat and my buddy said, “Here comes one”. I turned my head, picked up the flight of the ball immediately and, sure enough, it was heading my way. Actually, it was heading for the tunnel on the other side of the railing. I leaned way out over the railing and reached out my left hand as far as I could. The ball hit me square in the palm…and fell down to the tunnel below. There were people waiting in the tunnel to participate in some between innings shenanigans so I called down to the gentleman who picked up the ball, “Hey! I think I earned that one!”. He was kind enough to reach the ball up to me and I still have it. The thing about it is that I regret to this day that I didn’t catch the damn ball. I kind of wish that I wouldn’t have asked the guy to give it to me.


    I caught a foul ball at the old stadium. The worst place I’ve ever seen a game.

    Great story Phil. That’s a more complicated story than my first and only foul ball. Mine came a Brooklyn Cyclones game. A foul went out of the park on the third base side after bouncing off the bathroom. A guy point out to me that it ended up on Surf Ave right in front of a police bust. I was allowed to leave the stadium and I actually asked permission to grab the ball.

    Instinctively, I cheered and jumped up and down when I picked it up. Then the police were like, Ok, don’t get hit by a car…

    This is not *quite* a foul ball, but still a circumstance of getting an errant ball in the stands.

    I believe it was a June, 2001, game at the Metrodome, the Twins hosting the Tigers. I was at the game with my parents, sitting in the front row along the third base foul line right behind the bullpen in left field. In the pregame, I believe it was Joe Mays (the starting pitcher) was doing longtoss with A.J. Pierzynski, when one of the tosses went awry and kinda hit my mom as it banged off the plastic Metrodome seats. Can’t say that I’d anticipated my mom (a fellow Twins fan) getting, er, “hit by a pitch.”

    I reached down to pick up the ball, looked up, and saw Pierzynski holding up his mitt get get the ball back. Well, first instinct is, “I’d better throw this one back — they are prepping for the game that’s a few minutes away from starting.” The slight problem was, it was in my left hand, and I’m a righty. So, I toss it back — way to the side, totally by accident. I always kinda wondered what Pierzynski thought in the moment, but he probably thought it as no big deal within moments and was back to game prep (it evidently didn’t hurt the team — the Twins won, if my memory of that particular moment matches the game I believe I attended).

    Of course, I was thinking that maybe we *should* have kept the ball, since it did make its way into the stands, after all. The Twins bullpen folks were apparently thinking the same thing, since a moment later, the came up with a fresh baseball for us. All in all, pretty cool. :-)

    This is not *quite* a foul ball, but still a circumstance of getting an errant ball in the stands.

    I believe it was a June, 2001, game at the Metrodome, the Twins hosting the Tigers. I was at the game with my parents, sitting in the front row along the third base foul line right behind the bullpen in left field. In the pregame, I believe it was Joe Mays (the starting pitcher) was doing longtoss with A.J. Pierzynski, when one of the tosses went awry and kinda hit my mom as it banged off the plastic Metrodome seats. Can’t say that I’d anticipated my mom (a fellow Twins fan) getting, er, “hit by a pitch.”

    I reached down to pick up the ball, looked up, and saw Pierzynski holding up his mitt get get the ball back. Well, first instinct is, “I’d better throw this one back — they are prepping for the game that’s a few minutes away from starting.” The slight problem was, it was in my left hand, and I’m a righty. So, I toss it back — way to the side, totally by accident. I always kinda wondered what Pierzynski thought in the moment, but he probably thought it as no big deal within moments and was back to game prep (it evidently didn’t hurt the team — the Twins won, if my memory of that particular moment matches the game I believe I attended).

    Of course, I was thinking that maybe we *should* have kept the ball, since it did make its way into the stands, after all. The Twins bullpen folks were apparently thinking the same thing, since a moment later, the came up with a fresh baseball for us. All in all, pretty cool. :-)

    Yes! Phil finishing strong with his own “adventures of story” Great job taking over in August. Thank you for making Aug. 26th a holiday with my family now LOL! I always have a new appreciation for what Paul and the crew have to do to come up with content day in and day out at Uni Watch. I’m tired from just looking for guess the game by the uniform’s pieces, but next August I am doing a Sonny Sixkiller story, but nothing can top Tim Rossovich for craziness. Thank you to all the Uni Watch readers who read my articles and commented on them. I have a college game to go to tonight to watch my nephew play, another summer for Uni Watch in the books.

    You are welcome Mike! I have to say August was fun and who can’t use a little WFL in their life? I can’t wait for September, I get all of my college and pro uniform information right here on Uni Watch, Paul, Phil and the gang grind pretty hard for the next five months to provide everyone with all the uniform info a guy could ask for in 2023. I appreciate it guys!

    Thank you Phil for cobbling together a great month of content – apologies for the seemingly endless email w/attachments!
    Everyone who contributed an article, concept, and/or comment deserves a TY, too.
    I hope everybody enjoyed the GTGFTS & U submissions as much as I did researching them.

    Great story, PH – terrible beer choice. Love the scorecard…forgot Teke’s uni-cameo as a Red.
    Never caught a foul ball or wayward puck (closest I got to doing so was once at a Phantoms/Flames Calder Cup Finals game, landed a row ahead of me). So it goes.

    Fun ballpark story: I grew up going to Orioles games in Memorial Stadium and then Camden Yards. At the old Memorial Stadium a hot dog vendor in my section was taking FOR-EV-ER to get to us and he was selling a lot of hot dogs! I was so curious what was taking so long. We ordered a hot dog, mustard only, when he got to us and he spelled out “Orioles” in the jersey script in mustard on the frank! It was so cool and totally worth the wait. I still remember it 40 years later. That vendor Gets It!

    My first foul ball story. The setting, Milwaukee County Stadium, September 29, 1999. That was originally scheduled to be the last season (therefore the last week) at County Stadium and I had made sure that I had tickets to every game that week. Unfortunately, construction crane collapsed during construction in July of that year (killing three workers) and delayed the opening of then-Miller Park back a year.

    The result, I had a whole bunch of tickets to a meaningless week of second division baseball.

    Due to a rain out the previous day the Brewers and Pirates played a doubleheader on 9-29-99. The start was a few hours early and I was lucky enough to be able to get out of work early, grab my 7-year old son and get there for the first pitch…. with about 50 other people.

    In the first or second inning, a foul pop up came a section away from us, however with nobody anywhere in the vicinity, I was able to casually grab the ball and give it to my son.

    The story gets a little better, however, as at the time, Little Caesars had a “Pizza Delivery” promo, and late in the game, Bernie Brewer has a pizza and “delivers” it to a lucky fan. By this time the stadium was pretty full, but Bernie walked right up to us and gave my son the pizza.

    A foul ball and a pizza in the same day, and I am sharing it with my son. At that moment in time (despite it being an otherwise dull, late-season game) there was nothing wrong with the world.

    My brother and I used to take the bus along Lehigh Avenue to Connie Mack Stadium, buy grandstand tickets($.50) and then run like banshees through the half empty aisles after balls. Never even got close.
    Fast forward to the late 80s-early 90s, and I had 4(two daughters and two sons) baseball crazed kids. Had season tickets at Veterans Stadium, on the rail a few rows from the left field ball girl. An odd quirk in the stadium construction was a narrow alley next to our seats that actually connected to the visiting team bullpen. Players would amble over, at first to talk to the ball girl. But, hey, four little blonde haired kids armed with baseball gloves were too much to resist. Soon they were being handed balls almost every game, and sometimes more than one. By the time we followed the Phillies to CBP, we literally had a milk crate full of MLB baseballs!

    I’ve “kinda” gotten 3, but if I ever really catch one I’ll keep it. One at Three Rivers sitting behind home plate – more that it rolled down an empty aisle and the only person close to my dad and I was a retired Sid Bream. So have it signed. One AAA in Indy that I lost in the sin and landed in the seat next to me. One rolling down the aisle in Fort Wayne that l did give away. Any others like that I’d probably give away but more likely to some really little kid sitting with their parents than the “me me me” crowd.

    Oh and I have one that my dad caught at Candlestick after bouncing off my aunts hand. It was hit by Johnnie LeMaster who happened to be my aunts next door neighbor. So that was signed by knocking on the door the next day.

    No baseballs , closest I got was 2 seats over that went through a friends hands in the upper deck behind 1st base at Wrigley. But I did get a puck from the last season at the the old Chicago Stadium while I was in college. Playing dallas who had just moved from Minnesota early in the season the announcer did several “Minneso…uhh dallas penalry/goal)” calls. A player took a shot from the top of the right circle, it deflected up to the 7th row right in front of me, just left of the net. The guy in front of me had it hit him in the hand, it rolled up his arm and landed on the back of his fold chair seat and I grabbed it. Being the last season in the old barn I had people offering me cash for it but its on the mantle in my house to this day.

    Phil, thanks for the shout out. Contributing to the site is a real pleasure. I have been to about ten major league games and never once came close to catching a foul ball!

    I caught a foul ball barehanded back in around 2007. I was in the first row of the upper deck in San Francisco, watching Diamondbacks at Giants. Arizona’s Tony Clark hit a foul pop-up that crested just a few feet higher than my head, and dropped into my hands as gently as a baseball ever could. I feel like I almost could have caught an egg without breaking it at that velocity.

    This was the only ball that has come my way in over 30 years of big league games, and the only one I’ll ever need. It was as perfect as a dream. The guy next to me pulled out his wallet and offered me $20 for the ball. I told him I’d rather keep it, and as he put his money away he smiled and said that he would have done that too.

    Today I still have the ball sitting on a shelf above my desk, in a clear case. The side that has a black smudge, presumably from contact with the bat, is facing outward. On top of the case is a replica Giants championship ring that I got from attending the ring ceremony game after the 2012 run. These are the only two pieces of memorabilia that I keep.

    thank you Phil for your work in August. Loved the story about your foul ball, as I have never been to a Mets game but you painted a picture that was fun to follow.

    Someone should do an article on “sketchiest places to park in pro sports”. My top spot would be right here in lil ole Nashville where Titans often choose to park in an automobile scrap yard where chunks of metal stick out of the ground that are so sharp they will cut the sole of your shoes in half. Its a lovely spot.. And I used to park in the old ghetto that surrounded The Orange Bowl in Miami. Similar to pics in this article..

    I’ve actually caught TWO foul balls.

    The first was at Yankee Stadium – I’d like to say 1987 or so. I was sitting in the first row of the upper deck. Bobby Meacham lined the ball right at me. My parents told me they saw me make the catch on TV.

    The second wasn’t technically a foul ball at all. It was a foul grounder off the bat of Curtis Granderson that Pete Alonso of the Mets tossed over the netting into the stands. It was in 2019 at loanDepot Park, between the Mets and the Marlins – my late wife’s first game at that stadium. Now, if you’d talked to my wife, she’d have told you she could’ve caught the ball and that I nudged her out of the way to get it. My story – and I’m sticking to it – is that if I’d let her try to catch the ball with her suspect reflexes, it would have hit her squarely in the middle of her forehead and that I reached over her in order to protect her.

    In either event, I got that one.

    My foul ball story – June 21, 1983. Mets vs. Cards at Shea. Mookie Wilson fouled one into the field level seats on the third base side. It hit a railing a few rows in front of me and bounced high in the air. About 5 or 6 people around me jumped for it but I managed to snag it bare handed because I was taller than the others. I was so excited that on my way home I was tossing it in the air and catching it (I was 22 and never caught one before). Of course I dropped it and it got scuffed but I still had it. The next night I went back and planted myself near the Mets dugout before the game to try to get Mookie to sign it. He wouldn’t come near. I even remember a very young Strawberry saying “why don’t you sign for the people?” but Mookie wasn’t into it. I still have the ball in a plastic display case.

    A few years later I was at a game against SF, sitting in the field level further down the line. I got up to grab a beer and a hot dog and when I came back someone told me “Hey man, a foul ball just hit your seat”. Sigh. I don’t remember who hit it.

    Why do I think that if you look up “cool” in the dictionary, a 1974 photo of Hayden Fry would be there?

    I have a very good foul ball story that ends up poorly as well. My buddy, a girl he was dating, my girlfriend (now wife), and I went to a Diamondbacks game back in 2008. We were sitting in the “diamond” section (between the upper and lower deck). Not only did I catch a foul ball, but so did my friend! Mine was a one-handed on-the-fly catch hit by Eric Byrnes, so it was a pretty nice snag and I got some applause. His was a couple innings earlier where the ball bounced and essentially landed right between his legs.

    After the game we went to a bar and had a few drinks, partially as a night cap to the “double-date”, but we were also on a high after both catching foul balls. We were having a great time balancing the baseballs on top of the beer bottles – showing them off, etc.. Once we left the bar, my GF and I rode our bicycles home. Unfortunately, my friend drove and got busted for DUI. Not a great ending for him after a really fun night !

    Side note, my father caught a foul ball off the bat of Ron Cey at Dodger Stadium during the 1978 world series. I was just about to be born at the time, so he kept it for me and I still have it on my shelf.

    Boy you had me totally fooled, as I was reading the story, I thought it was going to end by saying the guy who hit the ball ran into you guys at the bar and signed it for you. Instead, it ends with a DUI, that part really came out of left field for me.

    I couldn’t guess a baseball picture if my life depended on it! I don’t know the history of the uniforms, so I don’t even have a starting point when I see one. The NFL is easy, I know who manufactured the jerseys in the 70’s and 80’s and I know the different fonts that were used in different seasons. I am also very familiar with rosters from the 70’s since I would study them as a kid. So I can always get the year just by the photo, then you go from there to find the particular game from that year.

    Man cannot live on football alone, Jimmy!
    Since there were not takers…here’s the answer:
    Civil Rights Game 5/30/14…Houston(2) defeated Baltimore(1).
    For this one, the home Astros played as the Houston Eagles (the only Negro league team based in Texas) and the O’s dressed as the Baltimore Elite Giants.
    When I sent this to Phil for consideration, he opined that GTGFTU players might think the Eagles uniform belonged to those worn by Newark:

    In 1976, I went to an Orioles game the day after the reggie jackson trade was made. After the game, I heard the sound of a bat hitting balls in an empty stadium. He hadn’t arrived in Baltimore in time for the game, but he was taking BP afterwards. The ushers let me and about 50 others stay to watch. I made my way to the right field stands and got one of the many balls he hit there. When he was done, he signed autographs and I got that ball signed. He was already one of my least favorite players when he was with Oakland. The next season when he signed with the hated yankees, I threw the ball in trash.

    Great job filling in, Phil.

    I’ve only gotten two foul balls at the 100-plus games I’ve been to as a fan in my life. Both were in the same game, about three innings apart. I kept the first one and gave the second one to a kid. Mine is sitting on top of the bookshelf in my living room, about seven years later or so.

    I’ve resolved that I’m only keeping that one, my first major-league foul ball and my first major-league home run, and the rest can go to whichever kid near me isn’t being annoying.

    Never got one. I’m hoping I get my first when I’m with my kids and not the guys so I can give it to the kids and not feel weird about keeping it myself.

    Great August content, as always, Phil!

    Lucky enough to catch two foul balls at Shea. First one in 1994 which I still have. Second one in 1998 hit by Mark McGwire. I had taken my Dad (who has never gotten a foul). We were in mezz level behind plate. Foul back hit a kid about 7 years old or so and ball bounded to me a few seats away. Had no choice but to give the ball to the kid who got hit by the ball.

    This is such a great post!…I still remember my foul ball experience like it was yesterday. It was May of 2001, I was a SoCal transplant and a Dodgers fan living in DC and at the time the only way to see Major League Baseball was to make the 45 minute drive up to Camden Yards in Baltimore. Had someone give me tickets to see the O’s play the Yankees. I commented when I got to the seats that this was prime foul ball territory, a couple of sections off the plate up the third baseline and up just above the net behind home plate. Nothing comes my way until 2 outs in the 9th, two strikes on Derek Jeter when he fouls one off and I see it headed up toward us. Instinct takes over and I track the ball while getting out of my aisle seat and to lean over the railing to the concourse tunnel and somehow barehand it. If I’d had time to think I’d have dropped it as it happened so fast. I remember the crowd around gave me some applause and I remember trying to play it cool and not show anyone how much my hand was stinging from the barehanded catch. Jeter struck out in the next pitch. I got to the car and much to the bewilderment of my girlfriend at the time, I called my dad, a couple of my best buddies to tell them. I tried to tell her why it was such a big thing I had to tell people but she never quite got it. I suppose that may be why she was eventually an ex-girlfriend.

    I still have the ball and the ticket stub…

    So cool to read everyone else’s stories in this thread too…

    Excellent story! I’ve never caught a ball at a game but if I did I’d run up and down the aisle, pointing to every little kid I saw, showing them the ball and telling them they can’t have it. But that’s just me…

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