Common sense needed in snagging balls at games
My first professional baseball game was with my sister on Aug. 1, 1996, in San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium and out of all the professional baseball games I've attended - around 100 including Tuesday's All-Star Game in Phoenix - I've only caught one ball.
The ball I caught wasn't anything special; it was at a spring training game I was covering in Tucson a few years back. The ball had a trajectory straight for the open window of the press box where I sat. I stood up and caught it.
There was no sacrifice of life or limb, but I did drop my pen on the fans below. I thought of bargaining with them, an even trade, the ball for the pen. After all, for a writer, a pen is mightier then a baseball.
Today that ball sits in a junk box in my apartment; it holds no sentimental value, just a baseball in a cardboard box full of crap.
But that ball got me thinking in light of the tragedy that took place in Texas, where a Rangers' fan fell 20 feet to his death, while reaching for a baseball. Or the near-tragedy at Monday's Home Run Derby, where a Kingman resident almost had the same fate had it not been for some quick thinking fans nearby.
Why would anybody risk his or her life for, of all things a baseball? And it's not just risking one's life. Go to a game or watch a game on TV, and you see fans, grown men and women, push away kids and old people for a $14 baseball.
Earlier this year, during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Houston Astros, the Fox Sports Arizona cameras captured a D-backs player tossing a ball to a little girl. A woman who looked to be in her late 30s or early 40s got up and snatched the ball away from the girl.
The girl was crying, but thankfully the nice people who work for FSN gave her a ball.
But still, why does a grown woman need a baseball? To a kid, getting a ball at a game is icing on a cake and such a memorable moment that the kid will probably sleep with the ball for the next three days. But to adults, the ball goes to the junk box where it's forgotten.
I'm sure the only thing going through the mind of Shannon Stone was getting a ball for his son. Sadly, that gesture also cost him his life.
But in light of this, what should teams do to ensure this doesn't happen again?
In the Stone case, after looking at pictures of the space between the scoreboard and the stands where he fell, that could've been prevented by simply covering that gap.
But in the cases where fans have fallen from the upper deck while trying to catch a foul ball, what can be done?
There's already railings that come to one's waist, which meets building codes in most cities. But do we need to raise it to someone's neck and cause obstructed views of the game.
I guess the real answer lies with fans' common sense. Common sense would tell someone its not right to push little kids to the ground for a ball, or it's not a good idea to stand on a table with nothing between you and a concrete slab 20-feet below. But, unfortunately, in our society it sometimes seems that common sense is a lost art form.