With no spectators to grab them, home-run hits and foul balls are proliferating in the stands at MLB ballparks

OAKLAND, California-Mookie Betts made a running catch in foul territory and immediately spotted something just over the padded outfield wall at Dodger Stadium: a lonely, stray baseball.


After signing a $365-million, 12-year contract, Betts apparently wasn’t above a little cleanup duty in his Los Angeles debut. He leaned over the railing, scooped up the ball and tossed it behind the right-field fence.

From Target Field to PNC Park and Busch Stadium, there are baseballs scattered everywhere with no fans inside to chase them down during this coronavirus-shortened 60-game season.

No scrambles for souvenirs in the upper deck. No races for home-run blasts in the bleachers. No jump balls for foul balls in the box seats.

Some clubs have been more frugal than others when it comes to collecting baseballs. Betts, for instance, took it upon himself to grab that abandoned ball after making a nifty grab in the sixth inning of Thursday night’s season opener against the San Francisco Giants.

The Mets, meanwhile, were quick to fetch a homer by Atlanta’s Adam Duvall on Saturday at Citi Field after it crashed into a cardboard cutout of a dog belonging to New York All-Star Jeff McNeil. The pooch sure showed off a good set of paws-a stadium attendant found the homerun ball sitting in the seat propping up the likeness of Willow McNeil.

“I think we’re going to save money, I guess,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.”I’m sure somebody’s going to sweep it up afterwards. They’ve got to have the baseball detail that goes out there after the game, as opposed to blowing hotdog wrappers, let’s go find baseballs. Everything about all of this is different. We’re getting used to it.”

In the Angels-Athletics opener Friday night, Oakland slugger Khris Davis fouled a 76 mph (122 kph) curveball from Andrew Heaney straight back into the second deck of the Coliseum in his first at-bat.

The next batter, Matt Olson, fouled off a pitch down the third-base line and into a section of lower-level seats. Then the ball bounced, hit the walkway and quickly rolled down the stairs to the very bottom row.

An approach taken by some teams is sending out souvenirs to fans if their cardboard cutout gets hit by a ball.

Longtime A’s supporter Richard Lovelady lucked out Friday night when his cutout-section 126, row 24, seat 4-was struck by Olson’s foul. Lovelady, head brewer and owner of Lovelady Brewing in Henderson, Nevada, hopes to eventually thank Olson with a free drink.

“My first A’s game was when I was 5 years old (1973) and I’ve gone to many, many A’s games over the years. Never have I been close to catching a foul ball or home run!”Lovelady wrote in an email.”Thanks to my family and co-workers, who bought me the cutout, my long drought is over!”

After Lovelady learned the A’s would donate $81.10 to a local charity because his image was hit by a foul ball, he pledged a donation in the same amount to food bank Three Square in Henderson and encouraged others to help charities if they could.

A’s President Dave Kaval just grinned at the news, saying:”What a great story.”

When fans do come back to the ballpark eventually, Angels slugger Justin Upton thinks they should get the chance to pick up all those baseballs in the bleachers that have been fouled off or hit over the fences.

“It’ll be great when the fans get back in the stadium. Honestly, I think they should just leave them there as long as it doesn’t get too crazy where there’s balls everywhere,” he said.”When the fans are allowed back in the stadium, allowing them to walk in and maybe at their feet being able to pick up a baseball from the season before.”

There might not be so many in Minnesota.

Dustin Morse, senior director of communications for the Twins, might be this year’s ball-hawking MVP after making it his new pastime. Or at the very least he owns the early lead.

Morse spent the opening weekend tracking down every Twins home run, a brave task one year after the “Bomba Squad” set a major-league record with 307 homers.

He scoured the stands and found Minnesota’s first seven long balls before deciding he couldn’t keep up and announcing his retirement from fetching Tuesday night.

“I’m tired,” Morse wrote, posting a photo of club mascot TC Bear holding a large net. Bear responded:”Learned from the best.”

At Coors Field, Colorado’s coaches sometimes scurry through the bleachers to throw back home-run balls from batting practice. Manager Bud Black recently witnessed general manager Jeff Bridich collecting a few too.

“He’s watching the game, obviously, but he’s getting his steps in by retrieving foul balls,” Black said.”It’s difficult for me to imagine a cardboard cutout going to retrieve a foul ball and going to the concession stand to get a snow cone. That would be sort of fun to see.”

Associated Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

NBC Sports All-American Teams

Today is the day that we unveil the NBC Sports college basketball All-American teams. Picking this year’s National Player of the Year was actually pretty easy to do based on the way that the season played out down the stretch,…

How to watch PSG vs Borussia Dortmund online and on TV tonight

One of the biggest clashes of the Champions League round of 16 sees PSG host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night. The second leg should prove a fascinating encounter, with both teams favouring an attacking style and having several in-form front…

Lopes an instant Shanghai hero

Brazilian already a huge hit with SIPG fans thanks to Super League goal rush  Unlike his high-profile Brazilian compatriots Oscar and Hulk, the arrival of little-known Ricardo Lopes at Shanghai SIPG in February barely raised an eyebrow among fans. However,…

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMICFrench football club PSG reports three positive COVID-19 cases among players

MOSCOW, September 2. /TASS/. Three players of the French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have been diagnosed with positive cases of the novel coronavirus, the club’s official website announced in a statement on Wednesday. “Three Paris Saint-Germain players have confirmed…