You know that a story has become a national phenomenon when Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira get their paws on it in New York’s “Today Show” studio. That’s where little Emily Montforto ended up this morning with her father, Steve, to tell the tale of how the adorable moppet threw back a perfectly good foul ball at a Phillies game.
But this is by no means unique: As long as kids have been attending baseball games, they’ve been doing precocious things. Let’s break open a sleeve of Graham crackers and a half-pint of milk and take a look back at some of them.
Emily Montforo. Age: 3. It happened on Tuesday night, as Dad Steve catches a foul ball, high-fives a few fans, and then presents the prize to his daughter; who promptly heaves it over the railing. Good thing he didn’t ask her to hold his beer. Or her baby sister. Lost in the commotion was the fact that it was a pretty impressive throw, but probably not good enough to clear the lower deck. Who do you suppose it hit?
Jeffrey Maier. Age: 12. In possibly the 2nd-most infamous fan interference catch in baseball history, Maier extended his gloved paw over the center-field fence at old Yankee Stadium to deflect Derek Jeter’s fly ball into the stands for a home run in the first game of the ALCS. It helped the Yankees beat the Orioles, with NY then going on to win the World Series. An appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and a key to the city from NY mayor Rudy Giuliani followed for Maier, but it wasn’t all glory. Orioles fans still hate him. In 2006, as an outfielder for Wesleyan University, fans at one away game pelted him with ice from the stands.
Kenny Campbell. Age: 10. It was in August of last season when Campbell, reaching over the outfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to try and snare a fly ball during batting practice, flipped over the railing and plunged 15 feet onto the warning track. Rewards: A comforting hug from Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey, tickets from the Phillies, a bat signed by Ryan Howard, and the requisite interview on “The Today Show.”
C.J. Age: 11. On Aug. 16 of this year, defied the odds by catching two foul balls off the bat of the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton during the same at-bat. For his efforts C.J. earned an interview with Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve, a tote bag as Progressive’s Fan of the Game, and withering looks from nearby Red Sox fans who didn’t get anything.
- On Sept. 11 of this year, a 6-year-old boy jumped out of the stands between innings at Comerica Park in Detroit, ran to the pitcher’s mound and grabbed a baseball that had been put there for Blue Jays’ pitcher Brandon Lyon. The boy’s uncle told security guards that his nephew had misunderstood his advice to “go to the railing and see if you can get a ball.” The Tigers let him keep the baseball.
- Dodgers officials completed a deal for Jim Thome and Jon Garland on Aug. 31 of this year, and planned to announce it to the team after that night’s game with the Diamondbacks. No need for that, however, as Larry King’s sons, 10-year-old Chance and 8-year-old Cannon, yelled the news into the Dodgers’ dugout after finding out about it on Twitter.