Friday, July 20, 2007

The Residue of Good Planning

Every time I see a foul ball or homer, I wonder who caught it. This interest no doubt stems from the fact that I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell on WJR who, whenever a ball went into the stands, would provide a mini biographical sketch of the fan that caught it. "The 2-2 pitch is due to Chet Lemon. Flanagan sets and deals, and it's fouled back and out of play. That one was caught by a young man from Chesaning, Michigan." For years I thought Harwell had a detailed seating chart.

Someone at the Salt Lake Tribune must have listened to Harwell too, because they recently devoted an unusual amount of journalistic resources to the matter at a Bees vs. Sky Sox game:

On Saturday, July 7, the Salt Lake Bees played their 90th game of the season. Just another game, by the looks of the box score - a 9-8 Bees victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox before a crowd of 7,111 at Franklin Covey Field . . . There were 28 balls hit out of play that night, 19 that landed in the stands - four on home runs. The Salt Lake Tribune tracked each ball and spent time with the fortunate few who brought home a free souvenir. For most, it was a right-place, right-time moment they won't soon forget. The following is a comprehensive look at where those balls landed and at some of the people who caught them.

And they really do mean comprehensive. While "only" nine of the nineteen souvenir catchers are profiled in the article, each of them gets a longer writeup than most dailies give to major league game stories. I can't say that any of the individual stories are all that interesting, but the piece has a Rashomon vibe to it, resulting in an almost artistic retelling of what was really just an ordinary AAA game.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

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