It could have been a routine out in foul territory. Instead, a pop-up at a Chicago Cubs game was caught by a dad who was also holding a baby – and the crowd went wild. It didn’t hurt that the fan momentarily robbed the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers of an out.
The play was eventually ruled to be fan interference, as Cubs fan Keith Hartley was found to have reached over into the field to nab the ball before it could land in the glove of Dodgers’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
But Hartley still got a round of applause for focusing on making the catch – and not disturbing his infant son Isaac, who kept enjoying his bottle while his dad lunged over the rain tarp.
The play became instant highlight-reel material for Major League Baseball — although the Los Angeles-based TV announcers who were working the game quickly disapproved.
“Mister, there are bigger things in life than a foul ball,” said one.
But after the play, the Dodgers didn’t seem to mind.
Interviewed while he and his wife were sitting in the stands with Isaac, Hartley tells TV network CSN that he was mainly thinking about his young son.
“I was just concerned about him. When we got to these seats, I was like, ‘You know, a foul ball can get on us quickly.’ So, I’m just trying to protect him, and I see the ball coming up — and it just kind of fell in my hand.”
In Chicago, the catch echoed the infamous incident in which Cubs fan Steve Bartman touched a foul ball hit by the Florida Marlins during the 2003 National League Championship Series, keeping a Cubs outfielder from making a play on the ball. In that inning, the Cubs went on to lose a 3-0 lead — followed by both the game and the series.
But in this case, Hartley’s catch didn’t have such lasting effects: The Cubs won yesterday’s game, 1-0.
“It’s not the World Series,” he said. “Hopefully Adrian’s not too upset: he’s on my fantasy team.”