How’s this for a way to catch your first foul ball?
It was the top of the sixth inning of Boston’s 7-3 win over the A’s Monday night, one out, when Boston leadoff hitter Kevin Youkilis stepped to the plate at Oakland’s McAffee Stadium. Youkilis swatted A’s pitcher Chad Gaudin’s first offering back foul into Section 113 just behind home plate, where his brother, Scott, just happened to be seated.
“The ball went straight up over our heads and landed two rows behind me and through all the commotion, it kind of just jumped into my hands,” Scott Youkilis wrote in an e-mail. “Pretty sweet way to get your FIRST foul ball. First in hundreds of baseball games attended.”
What are the odds? On any given evening, the likelihood of catching a foul ball is probably impossible to deduce, considering you’re far more likely catch one at your average, empty Tuesday night Royals-Devil Rays game in Tampa than a weekend tilt between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park, packed with 35,000-plus. The probability though has to skyrocket when you mix in a brother-to-brother combo.
While Kevin hones his craft at the dish, one of Boston’s most popular athletes, Scott makes a living by serving dishes at the popular restaurant he calls his own in San Francisco’s Mission District. As owner and executive chef of Maverick, Youkilis creates food that “celebrates the spirit of Samuel Maverick, an 1800's Texas cattle rancher who refused to brand his herd-forever immortalizing himself as a radical and independent thinker.”
You can check out his blog, The Foodies Digest, here.
If you’re scoring at home, Scott Youkilis: One; Most of the rest of us: Zero.
And Zach Hample: 2,867. Really.
OK, so they’re not all regulation foul balls, a good amount scored during batting practice or consistent persistence and nagging of the players. But still, how is this fair? I can imagine some poor five-year-old kid hoping that Tom Glavine will bestow him with a baseball, and in swoops this geek to add to his collection, closing in on 3,000.
Two days ago at Shea Stadium, Hample left with six balls to his name. Six. He’s scored 115 balls in 15 games this season alone, an average of 7.7 per game. His record is 19 during a 2004 game at Shea. He even wrote a book in 1999, explaining the finer points of bringing gloves and nets to the stadium on game day.
Did we mention this dude is almost 30?
Only kids under the age of 10 bring baseball gloves to Major League parks with the hopes of catching a foul ball. And…well, Doug Flutie. What self-respecting adult would go to the garage before leaving for the park and actually debate whether bringing the fishing net is a good idea? One, you'll look like a tool. Two, you'll be the laughingstock of your entire section. Three, you'll look like a tool.
I guess Hample’s is supposed to be a story of beating the odds. If that’s the case, I’m fine with simply waiting my turn, content with the knowledge that catching a foul ball is simply a luck of the draw event on any given evening.
But beyond some minor miracle, it’ll never be my brother who provides my first. Top that one, Zach Hample.