Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

April 29, 2012

The Kid in the Stands - Proper Etiquette of Foul Balls

(Yeah, kid, I feel your pain every Monday morning)
Some of you may have heard of the raging controversy a few days ago. At a Texas Rangers baseball game against the Yankees, two couples were sitting next to each other in the stands. One of the couples had a three-year-old child with them, all ablaze in Texas Rangers gear.

A foul ball gets thrown into the stands by one of the players, and the guy from the childless couple ends up with it (there is some debate on whether he caught it or it fell to him after bouncing, but that's beside the point). Instead of giving the ball to the kid, Cameron, he gives it to the woman he's with, and they smile and pose for the camera. Meanwhile, the boy starts crying his head off.

Horrible behaviour? That's the general consensus out there in Internet-land, though there have been some new updates to the story since then that show them to not necessarily be the evil villains they're made out to be. Cameron's mother spoke out on the Today show, saying that they were a perfectly wonderful couple who spoke with Cameron a lot. They were getting married on Saturday (so I suppose that means yesterday?) and this was their first baseball game together. In fact, she says that they offered Cameron the ball and she said no, because he's at an age where he wants everything and they want him to learn that sometimes you don't get everything you want.

Yankees announcer Michael Kay apparently went off on them and their behaviour. "'Oh my God. They can’t give it to the kid? That’s awful,' he lamented, adding, 'They’re rubbing it in the kid’s face,' when the couple posed happily with the ball for a photo as Cameron looked on."

The story did have a bit of a happy ending, as the dugout got him another ball. The other couple, Sean Leonard and Shannon Moore, are pretty upset with the sensationalizing that went on around the whole event, especially Kay's comments.

So just what is proper etiquette for kids at sporting events like this? Do they always deserve everything that even comes near them?

Some of the commenters on some pages that had this story agree with Cameron's mom, that maybe kids do need to learn that they can't always get everything they want, and that this would be an important life lesson. Others are of the belief that you always should put the kids first.

Roberto Luongo, goalie for the Vancouver Canucks, always gives his stick to a kid near the front row of Canucks home games when he's named one of the Three Stars, but that's a bit different. It's obviously his intent to give it to a kid, so if some guy catches it instead, he should definitely give it to the kid.

But a random puck or a foul ball or whatever?

Richard Durrett has a good post on this at ESPN. There's also a lively debate in the comments section.

First of all, if a ball (or puck or whatever) is tossed into the stands, it's generally intended for a kid. Players usually don't just randomly toss balls into the crowd, and hey, the good PR of taking care of your kid fans is never a bad thing. So if you catch one of these, give it to the kid it was intended for.

If it's a foul ball or home run that gets hit your way? That's a bit dicier.

My feeling is that, most of the time, you give it to the kid. Do you remember when you were a kid and some adult, especially one you didn't even know, did something nice for you? That adult has created a happy memory that will last a lifetime. The warm glow of a kid's smile should be compensation enough for it.

But what if you have your own situation? Maybe you've got a sick kid at home that really wanted to be at this game but couldn't? You want to bring the ball back to him/her. Or, as with this couple, it's your first baseball game together. Wouldn't this ball make a great memento of this occasion?

If I were in this type of situation, I would try to flag down an usher or somebody official, explain the situation, and ask whether you can either get another ball or whether the kid you're not giving it to can get another ball.

Really, it's not worth the PR nightmare, though in an ideal world that wouldn't be a consideration. I'm getting sick of over-hyping media that go off half-cocked without even thinking about other considerations. Instead, they get instantly outraged and start criticizing without knowing all the facts. Kay should be ashamed of himself, but then again, he's only one of many. How many times have we seen videos like this?

It's in your best interests to just give the kid the damned ball.

The couple says that this incident, and Kay's comments, have caused them to get angry phone calls at their home.

No matter what really happened, that part is seriously uncool. I guess it's a product of the society we're living in right now, this media-saturated 24-hour news cycle where people fly off the handle at the slightest provocation.

If I were them, I wouldn't be expecting an apology any time soon.

So what are your thoughts on this? Should you put the kids first? Or is it ok to keep the ball as long as you didn't physically push the kid out of the way, or reach over his head, to snatch it out of his hands?


  1. Personally I probably would have given the kid the ball. BUT, I do not think it is proper etiquette to do so. And if I had first seen that same child throwing a temper tantrum, I might have thought twice about giving it to him. Pouting mildly is one thing but he was having a fit! If I was his mother I wouldn't have allowed all the additional attention he received for his behavior either.... Guess that makes me a hard a** :)

  2. You can swear on this blog if you want. :)

    Yeah, the attention was a bit excessive. And now he'll be the subject of a "where are they now" documentary in 15 years. :)

  3. Etiquette's weird... it's up to the person doing it, otherwise it's compulsary. If you give some kid a ball cause he threw a fit, than that's not etiquette, that's appeasing the whiny brat two seats over.

    I can tell you as a father and former child... if I had caught the ball and my children weren't with me... I would have given the ball to the kid without hesitation.

    But like Raquel said, if the kid was throwing a fit... fuhgeddaboutit.

  4. I guess the question is what you should do before any fit is thrown. I mean, the kid had a fit *because* he didn't get the ball. But is it etiquette to give kids the ball before that even happens?

    That's the question, I guess.

    Thanks, anonymous father!!!!! Let the guessing games begin. :)

  5. I think Kay was wrong to villianize the couple. Kids should learn they aren't entitled to everything either. Out of context, things can look bad, but announcers need to be held responsible for what they say and how their words can affect a couple. Humanbeings being humanbeings are going to jump to conclusions and it's as bad as being gossiped about at church; only in this case people are bullying the adults. Entitled kids grow up to be entitled adults. I'm not a parent but I've seen way too many entitled adults who think the world owes them something. I have a lot of respect for those parents. What was supposed to be a memorable moment for this couple is now a memorable nightmare because of some careless comments made by an announcer.

  6. I think this statement is key:

    "No matter what really happened, that part is seriously uncool. I guess it's a product of the society we're living in right now, this media-saturated 24-hour news cycle where people fly off the handle at the slightest provocation."

    Note that comment begins with "no matter what really happened." That's the key! When did commentators and we, the public, get the idea that it was acceptable/appropriate to comment on every.little.thing. whether or not we have a clear and thorough understanding of the events or (more importantly) some connection to the events that would make it "our story" to tell?

    Don't we have anything better to do? Don't we value accuracy anymore, not even a little? Is everything our business?

    And yes, this is a Little Thing.

  7. Nikole: Thank you for stopping by again!

    To be fair, I think the vilification would have happened even if Kay didn't open his big mouth. I seem to remember the same type of bad feelings about another similar incident last year where it just happened because the video went viral, with no announcer involved.

    That being said, he was definitely wrong to go off like that in the heat of the moment without knowing any context whatsoever. It's something that happens way too often in our society nowadays and really needs to stop.

    Sheila: Thank you for coming by! And unless I'm mistaken, you're a first time visitor (or at least commenter), so let me welcome you to my blog.

    You're right. As a culture, we are becoming very quick to comment and judge without first finding out any facts, much less all of them.

    Thank you for the wonderful comment.

  8. Good manners, to those one does not love, are no more a breach of truth, than "your humble servant," at the bottom of a challenge is; they are universally agreed upon, and understand to be things of course. They are necessary guards of the decency and peace of society.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.