What's proper foul ball etiquette at park?

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
12:47
PM CT
By now I'm sure most of you have seen or at least heard about the unfortunate violation of the unwritten rules around foul ball etiquette at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington last night.

PODCAST
Randy says the crying 3-year-old at the Ballpark last night did not deserve the baseball. Ian and Matt weigh in.

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In the eighth inning of the Rangers' 7-3 win over the New York Yankees, Mitch Moreland tossed a foul ball into the seats. It's unclear if he saw a young child with a glove and tossed it at him, but he threw it in that general direction. A couple sitting next to the family with the boy caught the ball and even posed for pictures with it.

If you watch the video, it seems clear to me that they never even saw the boy sitting beside them. But he starts crying as he reaches toward the couple with the ball.

UPDATE: The couple did speak Thursday and said they were unaware of what was going on with the child. You can read more about that here. I believe them. The video, as we noted earlier today, seems to show they had no idea there was a boy there and that he was crying. And I can't believe they'd simply sit there if they knew he was in tears.

This took place near the Rangers dugout and someone in the dugout saw it and tossed the kid a ball to the cheers of the crowd around him (if anyone knows who tossed the ball, please let us know in the comment section).

So what is proper etiquette? On the surface, that may sound simple. You give the ball to the kid. End of story. And frankly, that's how I feel about it because I've got two kids, including a 3-year-old son who would have likely ended up in tears, too.

But what if you catch a ball at a game and want to bring it home to your kid who isn't in attendance? What if there's something special you really want to do with the foul ball? These are good questions, but in my opinion if you're at a game and you catch a ball with a kid near you, you've got to give that ball away. That's the way it goes.

UPDATE: On Twitter, @jgarlishhh, a Rangers fan, says that if you catch a foul ball, you should get to keep it. If a player is tossing it in the stands, it's likely meant for a kid anyway, and you should give that away. Interesting. I can see the point there.

This is a kids' game. That's the wonderful thing about it. That kid last night had his glove. He was waiting all night (and probably well past his bedtime, which had to make him cranky) to try to catch a ball. One comes right near him and it's taken away by a couple of adults. Not good. Kudos to the Rangers' person who flipped another ball to the kid.

Note to adults attending games: Don't push a kid out of the way to get a ball (I've seen that before) and don't drop the toddler sitting in your lap to the side to grab one either (I've seen that too). It's just a foul ball or a bal flipped from a player. But if you catch one, find a kid and make his or her day by flipping them the ball.

If you don't, you could find yourself called out by a TV broadcaster or booed by the crowd. One of our ESPNDallas.com editors knew that feeling. He was at a Rangers game years ago and caught a ball thrown by Rafael Palmeiro near the dugout. In his excitement, he didn't see a kid near him and kept the ball. He was booed by the crowd and even chastised from the field by Palmeiro. Needless to say, he gave the ball to the kid and if he's ever in a similar situation, he'll immediately find a lucky boy or girl and give it to them.

Is that fair? Am I wrong about the proper etiquette here?
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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