MLB's 15 Most Famous Child Moments of All Time
For most of us, if not all, our first significant baseball memory occurred when we were children. Be it playing Little League, attending our first game or even meeting our favorite player, our first association with America's pastime usually occurs at an early age.
For me, the first baseball memory I have is playing an odd variation of the game on my grandparents' patio, using a giant inflatable New York Mets bat and a beach ball.
Even in the game today, some of the most precious and memorable moments involve kids. I think we all remember that moment in the 2002 World Series when Darren Baker (pictured, second from right), son of then-San Francisco Giants skipper and current Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty, was saved from being pancaked at home plate.
Similarly, Yankee fans all remember the infamous Jeffrey Maier.
That said, let's go through recent history and look at 15 of the most precious MLB moments involving children.
Jeffrey Maier's Robbery
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The year was 1996, long before instant replay was a part of the game as we know it today. The New York Yankees were facing the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS and were trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Rookie sensation Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate against Armando Benitez and hit a fly ball to right field that Baltimore outfielder Tony Tarasco appeared to have in his sights.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and caught the ball as Tarasco went berserk over the interference.
Unfortunately for Tarasco, it was ruled a home run as the Yankees tied the game and went on to win Game 1, 5-4 in 11 innings and ultimately the ALCS in five games.
Meanwhile, Maier became a local hero as the Yankees also went on to win the World Series that year.
Toddler Throws Foul Ball Back
One of the greatest thrills any child can enjoy at a baseball game is catching a foul ball and keeping it for life. Clearly, this little Phillies fan didn't get that memo.
Dayan Viciedo: Child Catcher
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At 5'11", 240 pounds, Dayan Viciedo doesn't really look like someone who children flock around at Chicago White Sox games. If anything, he looks like someone they'd be afraid would eat them.
Yet, the Cuban wonder proved us wrong on April 19, when his team faced off against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field. A youngster jumped from the stands and into left field, where Viciedo was playing.
Instead of being nonchalant about it or running away as though the kid had the plague, Viciedo did the opposite.
He scooped the little boy up, smiled and handed him off to stadium security. Sure, the kid technically broke the law, but Viciedo's reaction was kind of sweet, if you think about it.
Paul Aguirre Surprises His Children
A common trend today is United States military veterans coming home from overseas unannounced to surprise their children.
In Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre's case, he chose to surprise his young son and daughter at an Arizona Diamondbacks game by disguising himself as the catcher fielding their first pitches.
I suggest that you all have some Kleenex handy while watching this video.
Max Ashton Nails First Pitch
This occurred during last season's NLDS, when the Milwaukee Brewers took on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. When I read about this, I literally stood up and applauded.
The first pitch honors that night went to a boy named Max Ashton, who was there representing the Foundation for Blind Children. Not only did Ashton get a rousing ovation, but he threw an almost-perfect pitch.
Forget the story of Babe Ruth hitting home runs for sick children. This is the most inspirational story of all time.
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Here we have another case of a child throwing a foul ball back onto the field, but this one is just plain funny.
It occurred last season when the San Francisco Giants took on the Cleveland Indians at AT&T Park, when Andres Torres (pictured) came to bat in the fifth inning.
Torres fouled the ball straight back and a young boy caught it. Rather than keep his free souvenir, he put a stone-cold serious look on his face and violently threw it back onto the field!
I'm guessing Torres isn't one of his favorites...
Mark McGwire Hits 61, Embraces Son
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The 1998 season was a memorable one, not only because of the New York Yankees winning 114 regular-season games, but because of the quest of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs in a single season.
On Sept. 7, McGwire launched a home run to tie the record and once he crossed home plate, he scooped his son Matt into his arms and embraced him as a giant smile adorned his face.
Why is this such a great moment, you might ask? Well, the way I see it, some of us consider baseball players our heroes. When that hero also happens to be your father, it makes it all the more special.
Kid in One Hand, Foul Ball in the Other
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Back in the day, Dan Haren's velocity was pretty intimidating and even today I wouldn't want to even try to catch a foul ball barehanded if it was the result of his pitching. Yet, in 2009, one fan took that chance and succeeded.
Yet, what makes the catch all the more amazing is that said fan had a toddler in his other arm. Look at the video and note the child's face. It's as though he's saying, "Eh...this happens all the time. I'm used to it!"
Don't Forget Your Daughter!
In this case, at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, a father drops his daughter in order to catch a foul ball.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is where we find a perfect example of why one should always bring their glove to a game.
The Perfect Team Effort
Honestly, though this occurred at a game between my beloved New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, I don't care that the kid in question rooted for the opposing team.
Frankly, given the team effort between him and his father, I'm just impressed!
A Child's Act of Goodness
Last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks were playing the Milwaukee Brewers in July.
A foul ball was tossed into the stands and a young Brewers fan missed it, as the ball was picked up by a young Diamondbacks fan.
Watch the video, and you'll see the true definition of generosity.
The Definitive Gold Glove
Honestly, fans who catch foul balls with babies in their arms impress me.
In my opinion, a standard spring training drill should feature outfielders trying to catch fly balls with a baby doll strapped to their other arm.
Kid Loses Foul Ball, Tells off the Winner
Well, I guess the old saying is true. "Hell hath no fury like a child denied a foul ball at a Houston Astros game."
How to Sulk After Losing a Foul Ball
I don't mean to make fun of this child, because I've been in his position MANY times, but the way he reacts is just adorable and hilarious.
I mean, come on. How can you watch his reaction to losing a foul ball and NOT laugh?
JT Snow Saves Darren Baker
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Overall, J.T. Snow can be remembered for a lot of things. In 13 1/2 seasons, he won six Gold Gloves at first base and was a reliable switch hitter for the San Francisco Giants, with whom he spent nine years.
However, despite his accomplishments, Snow will always be remembered for a moment that happened during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, when his Giants took on the then-Anaheim Angels.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with San Francisco up 8-4, Snow on third base and David Bell on second, Kenny Lofton launched a triple to right field.
At the time, Dusty Baker was the manager of the Giants, and his three-year-old son Darren was a bat boy. As Snow raced home to score, Darren went out to get Lofton's bat as Bell was running home at full speed.
Taking quick action, Snow grabbed little Darren by the jacket and scooped him up into his arms, saving him from what could have been a terrible accident. As a result, Major League Baseball took actions and made a rule stating that all bat boys must be at least 14 years old.
Still, this rule carries a great memory with it, one involving a small child and his overall excitement and passion for the game.
Footage of the rescue can be seen here.