Fans will go to ridiculous lengths to catch a home run ball. Look, we get it. It’s a rare feat that results in both a unique souvenir and a great story. When a home run ball is heading straight toward you, it’s reasonable to abandon all logical thought and let instincts take over. Sometimes, this can lead to some unfortunate decisions.
That’s exactly what happened when the Seattle Mariners took on the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Ben Gamel belted a 93 mph fastball out to center for a solo home run.
The ball was hit directly to center. In most parks, there are no seats in this particular area. Just beyond the center field wall, there’s an opening that leads straight to the field level. It’s an area typically used by grounds crew members or behind-the-scenes-employees.
Gamel’s ball was hit to that space, but was close enough to where the right field bleachers ended that one fan decided to take a risk. This fan didn’t bring his glove to the game, however, so he had to improvise.
With the ball hurdling toward him, and panic setting in, he turned to the one option that wouldn’t completely destroy his hand. He took off his cap, and hoped he could use it as a makeshift glove to make the play.
The fan reached over the guard railing with his cap in hand. He fully extends it out over that gap just beyond the center field wall. There’s nothing below his arm but 10 feet of air. His aim was perfect. The ball fell in just the right place. It hit his cap exactly as planned … and kept going.
The force of the ball jarred the cap loose from the fan’s hand. He not only lost out on a home run ball, but he also lost his cap.
You can see the anguish in his body language right after it happens. He continues to hold out his arm for a few minutes as the realization sets in that he may have just made a huge mistake. The snap decision to use the hat was a bad choice.
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending. The Mariners caught up with the fan and returned the cap. Not only that, they made sure he went home with the home run ball, and a ball autographed by Gamel.
Everything worked out in the end. Kara has the home run ball and Justin has a signed ball from Ben Gamel—and he got his hat back! pic.twitter.com/h96NtYYTcz
— Mariners (@Mariners) June 21, 2017
As an added bonus, he got to see a dramatic Mariners win. Kyle Seager managed a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th, giving Seattle the 5-4 win.
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