October 14, 2011

Talkin' Bartman with the Ballhawks

October 14, 2003 is one of those dates that most baseball fans don't know off the top of their head, but tell them that that was the date when Steve Bartman missed making a play on a foul ball hit by Luis Castillo in Game Six of the 2003 NLCS...and they'll tell you EXACTLY where they were.

That's right, gang, the "Bartman Incident" is, officially, eight years old.

So, I got to thinking...how would Major League Baseball's premier ballhawks (author Zack Hample and Camden Yards fixture Tim Anderson) handle the situation if they swapped places with the Chicago Cubs scapegoat.

HOVG: You've seen the Steve Bartman clip a thousand times since it intially played out. What was the fatal flaw in him (or the people around him) NOT getting that foul ball?

ANDERSON: He didn't have a glove. Plain and simple. If he has a glove and some athletic ability, he actually OWNS one of the most infamous balls in baseball history.

HAMPLE: He should've been wearing a glove. It's THAT simple.

HOVG: How would you have handled it?

ANDERSON: I’d have handled it the same exact way. I do not blame Bartman or the people around him for going after that ball. When the ball is coming towards you, you forget there is a baseball game going on. You are worried about being hit in the face with the ball, not if Moises Alou is going to have a play on it.

HAMPLE: If I were a diehard Cubs fan, I would've held back and not reached for the ball so that Moises Alou would've had a better shot. If I were there as myself (without any allegiance to any team), I would've caught the damn thing.

ANDERSON: I hope that if one day a homerun is coming towards the front row in Camden Yards (hit by an opponent), that I would have the wherewithal to let the fielder make a play on it. That's just because I'm out there catching balls all the time and know the field. Bartman wasn't a ballhawk. He didn't know. Can't blame him.

HOVG: A couple of months after the missed catch, the ball sold for close to $115,000...only to be blown up? If you had the ball...what would you have done with it?

HAMPLE: For that much money, I would've sold it. That's what I refer to as "life-changing" money.

ANDERSON: That's tough. I'd like to say that I'd hang on to it for a year or two and then donate it to the Hall of Fame, but I'd find it hard to pass-up money like that. It would definitely pay for my college.

HOVG: You're both known primarily for catching home run balls...is there one that you wished you would had snagged? This could be any ball from the history of the game.

ANDERSON: I'd like to have my hands on a milestone homerun, whether it be from Bonds or someone's 500th or 600th. Imagine having a Babe Ruth homerun ball? Wow. But, a homerun that has been hit recently that I would like to have caught would be Derek Jeter's 3000th hit. I would have had so much fun jerking him around in negotiating for that ball.

HAMPLE: I was right there for (Jeter’s) previous at-bat, then had to move when the seats filled in.  But still, I could've gone back for Jeter's next at-bat because I know the security guard out there. I just didn't make the effort because I assumed that it wasn't going to be a home run. If I'd gone back, I would've been with three feet of the ball, and there's a 50-50 chance that I would've caught it. I'll truly never forgive myself or get over the heartbreak of that moment.

Zack Hample has snagged 5788 baseballs at 48 different major league stadiums since 1990. You can check out his website (The Baseball Collector) or follow him on Twitter at @zack_hample.

When Tim Anderson is not at Camden Yards, he is online contributing to both Sports Nickel and Baseball and That Other Good Stuff.  You can find "Mr. Shagtastic" on Twitter at @sportsnickelTim.

1 comment:

Brian J. Bushaw said...

I'd like to get the ball that actually lost the game for the Cubs that night--Alex Gonzalez' booted grounder to Short. There'd have been no game seven if he makes that play two batters later.