How Are So Many Baseball Fans Catching Foul Balls While Holding Babies?

Foul Balls
More fans than ever are catching foul balls and home runs while holding babies. MLB.com

In the first inning of Thursday's game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar sliced an 0-2 pitch foul into the stands down the right field line. Fan Brian Kucharik caught the ball in the air with his bare hand, an impressive feat. In his other hand, though, was his young daughter Emily, whose face was cradled against her father's chest, maybe a foot away from the eventual resting place of the hard, rawhide sphere hurtling toward them. Kucharik flashed an easy smile after snagging the ball. He barely even moved the entire time, although he did spill some fries.

"I wasn't too worried," Kucharik said after making the catch. "I play outfield so I'm used to it. It was coming right to my glove hand, so I was pretty confident."

Catching a foul ball at a baseball game is difficult. Catching one with your bare hands is harder still. Catching one with a single bare hand while holding a baby in the other is not only hard to even imagine executing, it's flat-out bizarre. If an object that could potentially kill the small child you are holding is hurtling toward you, wouldn't the reaction be to, say, shield the child and get out of the way, rather than to think, "I am going to grab this death projectile while holding my baby a comfortable distance of one foot away"? What if someone else bumps into you, aligning your baby with the trajectory of the ball? What if the ball ricochets off the palm of your hand and into your baby's soft, delicate, very much breakable face? These things never happen, though. The dudes always just catch the ball and grin in amusement at how they came about a new totem for their mantle with so little effort.

And yes, "dudes." Plural. Kucharik isn't the only one to pull off the seemingly impossible. It's happened multiple times this year alone. Earlier this month, a fan at a White Sox game snatched a bouncing foul ball out of the air while cradling his pink-clad newborn in the other. No sweat.

In April, two impressive baby-catches happened within two days of each other. On Friday, the 22nd, a Pirates fan picked a home run clean out of the air while holding his baby boy against his chest. Ball secured in his bare palm, he held his prize aloft as fans cheered. Unfortunately, the home run was hit by Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Welington Castillo.

Then, on Sunday, the 24th, a Red Sox fan grabbed a foul ball, toddler in his other arm, during a game against the Houston Astros. We can't give him full credit, though. He was wearing a glove.

Though we may have seen an abnormally high number of baby catches in 2016, they are nothing new. Last year, a fan almost dropped his baby in the process of stealing a foul ball from Los Angeles Dodgers first basemen Adrian Gonzalez; a Phillies fan wearing an occupied Baby Bjorn grabbed a Daniel Murphy foul ball before pumping up the crowd; and an Angels fan almost concussed his child while reaching over the railing to scoop up a stray ball.

Just as it's amazing that more absent-minded fans aren't injured by the balls and bats that fly into the stands of ballparks around the country on a daily basis, so too is this phenomenon of baby-toting dads snagging foul balls and home runs with ease. Maybe they are so hyper-focused because they are guarding the life of their child that some super-human set of reflexes kick in, allowing them to track and snag incoming projectiles in a way they couldn't if they were only holding a bag of peanuts. Maybe like 75 percent of dad-aged men in ballparks are holding babies and we've never realized it. Maybe baseball is just the most nonsensical sport, in general, and the game's inherent nonsense can't help but extend into the stands.

Whatever the reason, it is happening more than ever, so if you've been trying to catch a foul ball your whole life and keep coming up empty, you might want to start leaving the glove in the closet and grab a baby instead. The cuter and more oblivious, the better.