I normally try to stay way from stories of men doing the wrong thing and stick with good examples, but the recent number of news items on men overreaching for baseballs in MLB games has struck me. And there are two current stories of fans and baseballs that have parts of them that show some honor.
Last week a fan died trying to catch a ball thrown to him from Rangers star outfielder Josh Hamilton. This one was odd as it did not come from the usual attempt at a foul or home run ball, but from a ball tossed by a player. The throw must have been off the mark and the fan over-reached and in so doing fell 20 feet and suffered fatal injuries. In typical man fashion of not learning lessons, on the same day as the memorial service for the previous story, a fan at MLB’s Home Run Derby, a fan trying to catch a ball stepped up onto a metal table about 18 inches wide and reached for the ball only to have his momentum carry him off the table and on his way to 20 feet below – the same distance the previous fan fell to his death. In Well-Met Man fashion, however, his brother and a friend managed to grab his legs and pull him back up. The flailing fan’s quote: “I thought: I’ve lived a good life’. Not – boy that was really stupid? On the scale of risk versus reward, the risk of dying is not worth one baseball – even if it is at some special event or a historic hit.
Speaking of historic hits – in a related story, Derek Jeter just hit his historic hit 3,000. The ball was caught by fan Christian Lopez – good news is he caught it safely. The expected thing for a fan to do, by most people, is to take the ball and keep it to sell later – perhaps when the player enters the Hall of Fame and the price goes up more – but this fan decided to just give it back to Jeter. My initial reaction was that he did the Well-Met thing, but then some cynicism seeped in. First, he is a Yankees fan – I wonder if he was a fan of another team if he would have had the same thought – still good for him for supporting his team. Then, he was rewarded by the team and Jeter of course. I know I would expect and think this would happen – sure in the end what they gave him likely will not be worth what he could have gotten for the ball but he gets more instant gratification. Then you read that he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans (hundreds of thousands?) – and you wonder was he smart or dumb? Maybe he should have kept the ball and sold it to pay for that. Or maybe he was smart as he got items that he can sell off now for a little bit here and there. I don’t know how to call this one. Yes in some way he did the ‘right thing’ but did he do it knowing/thinking he would get other rewards, and would he have been better off keeping it.