12-Year-Old Boy at Texas Rangers Game Beats the Odds, Wow!

Scott SpradlingContributor IAugust 17, 2009

Last night I was watching the Texas Rangers play the Boston Red Sox, and I ended up seeing one of the most incredible odd-defying feats I have ever seen at a baseball game.

In the 5th inning Josh Hamilton for the Rangers was batting and hits a foul ball into the stands. Not that big of a deal right but the really cool thing is it was caught by a 12-year-old boy (the only info we have is his name is C.J. from Cedar Hills, Texas) with his glove cleanly. It was smiles and high-fives all around and I was thinking how special that was for this kid.

Then the impossible happened, not three pitches later in the same at-bat Josh Hamilton hit another foul ball and the same kid caught it again in his glove cleanly. The entire crowd erupted giving him a standing ovation.

Watching this amazing improbable feat, I started to wonder what my chances of catching a foul ball actually were. So in order for me to figure this out I had to do some calculations or at least try to figure out a formula and this is what I came up with.

There are probably about 40 baseballs hit into the stands per game. Then you have to figure in the amount of fans at the game. If I remember correctly this season so far the Rangers are averaging around 33,000 fans per game. So that means that one in every 825 fans would walk away with a foul ball.

Notice I said walk away with a ball, because if you watch MLB, only about four out of those 40 fans that get foul balls actually catch them cleanly (one in every 8250).

The factors in our little equation don’t end here because you have to consider that there are places in a stadium where there is no way to catch a foul ball because you are seated in fair territory, this combination makes our one in 8250 figure for catching just one foul ball way askew, but hey its just a rough estimate.

So talk about getting your 15 minutes of fame in your life! During the game the reporter from Fox Sports Southwest found him and interviewed him on the air, and he was awarded the fan of the game! They also gave him an award of a Gold Glove trophy, and to top it all off, his two catches were the ESPN Sportscenter No. 5 play of the week in their Top 10.

I am sure all the math geeks out there are perplexed as to how to figure this out, and it would be a great question for the Math Olympics. (I think webquest hosts one). Tom Hicks the owner of the Texas Rangers should look at this as a great marketing tool!

Find the place at the Ball Park at Arlington where you are more likely to catch a foul ball and mark it on your ticket sales site. Judging from the response this kid got catching his two foul balls It might influence ticket sales in those areas. Besides I think “Foul Ball Boy” is a far better draw than “Batting Stance Guy”.

In closing I noticed in talking with people and friends that not every person understands the exact rules of what is and is not a foul ball, by definition and how it can be played, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and this is what it says:

In baseball a foul ball is a batted ball that:

Settles on foul territory between home and first base or between home and third base,

or

Bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or

First falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or

While on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground.

A foul fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the infielder is on foul or fair territory at the time he touches the ball.

Foul territory or foul ground is defined as the area of the field outside of the foul lines. The foul lines or foul poles are not part of foul territory.

In general, when a batted ball is ruled a foul ball, the ball is dead, all runners must return to their time-of-pitch base without liability to be put out, and the batter returns to home plate to continue his turn at bat.

A strike is issued for the batter if he had fewer than two strikes. If the batter already has two strikes against him when he hits a foul ball, a strike is not issued unless the ball was bunted to become a foul ball, in which case a third strike is issued and a strikeout recorded for the batter and pitcher. A strike is, however, recorded for the pitcher for every foul ball the batter hits, regardless of the count.

A batted ball caught by a fielder in flight in foul territory is not considered a foul ball, but the batter is out and runners on base may advance at their own risk.

Rules in covered facilities

In a retractable or fixed roof baseball facility, a batted ball is a foul ball if it:

strikes the roof, roof support structure, or objects suspended from the roof (e.g., lights, speakers) in fair territory and lands in foul territory

becomes lodged in any of those objects in foul territory and does not fall back to the playing field

Rules vary from stadium to stadium for a ball striking the roof or suspended object in foul territory. Some consider such a ball to still be in flight, while others consider it a foul ball and dead from the time it strikes.

Strategies

On rare occasions, such as in extra innings or the ninth inning of a tie game when a runner is on third base, fielders have been known to let long foul flies drop rather than risk losing the game on a sacrifice fly. Sometimes, in that situation, a fielder will not try to catch a ball that is close to the foul line in the hope that the ball will go foul at the last second—neither catching the ball nor letting it drop would prevent a defeat.

In different situations, a foul ball may be considered a positive or negative outcome of a pitch or swing. When there are zero or one strikes, a foul ball counts as a strike, benefiting the pitcher.

However, a foul ball may reveal to the batter that he has timed a pitch well and need only make adjustment to the location of his swing on the next such pitch; this is often called a good cut or simply a good swing.

Foul balls with two strikes are generally considered positive for the batter, since he thus avoids strike three on a potentially difficult pitch. Also, foul balls with two strikes increase the pitchers, pitch count, adding to his/her fatigue, thus providing some small advantage to the offense.

A strategy of swinging on any ball to try to produce additional fouls and prolong an at-bat is often used against strong pitchers to try to drive them from the game sooner (and also the possibility of the pitcher throwing a pitch a hitter can get a hit on); this does, however, have the disadvantage of generating more strikeouts.

References

^ , Major League Baseball, http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2008/official_rules/02_definition_of_terms.pdf, retrieved 2009-06-13

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