Keep the Ball

When Kevin Youkilis homered into the left field stands at the Jake to give the Boston Red Sox their first run after falling behind 7-0, the fan who came up with the ball immediately sailed it back onto the field. This is a tradition of disdain for a visiting club’s homers that apparently started—at least was popularized—in Wrigley Field. I always felt bad to see those balls sail back onto the field. I count two souvenir balls, one caught on the fly, from Candlestick Park amongst my most treasured sports possessions, probably more so because I caught the balls in my youth. It hurts to see someone throw such a precious possession back simply for a momentary rush … or worse, because they are pressured by surrounding fans to do so. I’m sure that is the sad reason a lot of balls are thrown back.

When David Ortiz homered, the Cleveland fan who came up with the ball was clearly elated, then, when pressured by surrounding fans, almost threw it back, but hesitated. She later sold it to a Boston fan.

I’m not sure what happened to the ball hit by Manny Ramirez when he completed the back-to-back-to-back to help Cleveland scramble back into the game. But I do know this; a lot of fans regret tossing those balls back. These opportunities don’t come that often. Keep the ball … if not for the love of the game, then for the love of your team. That ball that was tossed back tonight shouldn’t be seen by Indians fans as a despised Red Sox homer, but as one of the balls in Cleveland’s possible victory. And even if the indians were to lose, it’s a historic part of Cleveland’s great 2007 season.

If you catch a homer served up by your home team some day, keep it … as a souvenir of your team. If you don’t, you may regret it some day.

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