Foul Ball Dad Holds Bottle-Feeding Baby in One Hand, Steals Play from Adrian Gonzalez with the Other

Joc Pederson tracked a Chris Denorfia fly ball and made a very nice, albeit worthless, catch as the Cubs completed their 9th walk-off win of the season. No one was talking about that though. And several innings earlier, Addison Russell climbed the ladder to rob Pederson of a base hit. You can see the effort below, but this was still not the best catch of the game.


No, the talk of the contest — prior to Norf’s walk-off anyway — was Kevin Hartley who, with baby Isaac tucked under his left arm, reached out over the wall to pluck a foul ball out of the air just as Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was lunging across the giant Reynolds Wrap tarp. My instant reaction was, “Wow, heck of a catch, bro!”

Of course, not everyone felt the same way. Many were calling for the fan to be ejected for interfering with the play on the field. Still others were bemoaning Hartley’s endangerment of his baby, who apparently already has his old man’s hands, as he held fast to his bottle through the whole ordeal.

Listen, I understand that the rules say any fan getting in the way of a play is to be ejected from the game. The Dodgers were awarded the out upon review, as it was pretty clear that Gonzalez would have made the play. But I think this is one of those cases in which extenuating circumstances come into play in terms of the Cubs’ decision to let the guy stay at the game.

With the tarp and the wall there though, it’s not as if the fan was stepping onto the field or doing anything extreme in order to get the ball. Nor was it a pivotal moment, though given how close the game ended up being, I suppose you get the feeling that every out in the game could have been a turning point. I agree, Pat.

And how could I leave out the requisite hot-takery from local media?

I’m just going to leave that one alone, other than to say that Mark Giangreco should feel bad about that tweet. In any case, I didn’t and don’t see what the big deal is, though I cared enough to rewind the DVR in order to capture the moment on my phone. I just thought it was cool.

Here’s my super-classy video, for those of you who haven’t already seen the play four and a half million times:

Of course, by the time the game had finished, pretty much every news outlet in the country was pimping the story, so I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought it interesting enough to write about. But I must say I got a little perturbed by the vitriol directed toward Hartley, both as a fan and a father.

You can hear a little of it in the commentary from the Dodgers broadcasters in the clip below, but there was plenty online as well.

When did we all start taking ourselves so seriously? Can any of you remember a time when that wasn’t the case? I’m just glad there were no cameras trained on me a few years ago when I jumped up to celebrate a Starlin Castro triple off the ivy, flopping the rag-doll body of my sleeping son all over the place as I did. Sure, he was maybe three, but that made him even harder to hold.

I used to mow the yard with my daughter strapped into one of those front-facing papoose deals and when my back would get sore from that, I’d just take her out and hold her in one hand while pushing the mower with the other. Don’t go thinking I’m too much of a Tsuyoshi Wada though, it was self-propelled.

Heck, I commend the guy for holding his baby at the ballgame in the first place. A lot of guys would have claimed it was there paternal duty to down a few beers and avoid the kid so as to protect him by focusing solely on the game.

Of course, a really skilled father would have caught the ball in the kid’s bottle like those fans who were using their beers as mitts earlier in the season. Alas, he just went the old-fashioned route. And speaking of old-fashioned, maybe once in a while we can all remember what it was like when a baseball game was fun and kids didn’t need to be sealed in bubble wrap and sanitized against life.

And now, feeling clean from my time on that soapbox, I bid you adieu.


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