Professional Ball-Catcher… Or Ransom Collector?

Our older readers likely know The Rule, used to calculate whether a relationship with a large age difference is creepy. A sexual relationship is acceptable if the younger person’s age is at least 7 plus half the elder’s age. 30 can pull 22, for example, but any younger and you’re a total perv.

Nick Yohanek home run ball ransom

(”Also, I want Antonio Alfonseca’s extra fingers. He’s still around, right?”)

We bring this up because while there’s no single universally accepted age at which it stops becoming acceptable for fans to bring a glove to a baseball game, it too follows a pretty consistent formula: as long as your age is no higher than 12 plus half the amount of years you played Little League, you’re safe. This, of course, necessarily excludes adults from ever bringing a glove to a game, mainly because only adults could pull the underhanded behavior of Brewers fan Nick Yohanek, who gave himself the Orwellian nickname of “The Happy Youngster.”

As the DETROIT NEWS reports, the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan made the mistake of hitting his first home run to Yohanek, who demanded unholy amounts of loot in return for the ball. Like really: he wanted way, way too much:

Coghlan said he gave the fan a signed bat and took a photo with him after Wednesday’s game. As Coghlan discovered, that only seemed like a starting point for further negotiations.

“Then he wanted other things that I didn’t think (were) fair,” Coghlan said.

Coghlan said the fan also asked for tickets to one of the Marlins’ upcoming games against the Yankees, along with a ball and signed bat from Coghlan’s more famous Marlins teammate, Hanley Ramirez.

Yohanek, not surprisingly, has a different view of things. We’re a little more suspicious of his version of the facts, mainly because he’s got far more reason to lie and even in his quotes, he comes off as an unholy prick:

“I explained that ballhawking is my hobby and that what I was asking in return was fair,” Yohanek said Thursday, in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “I told him I make $50,000 a year working in law enforcement and that I didn’t feel like I was asking for too much. He responded, ‘Good for you.’ Real classy. Way to respect law enforcement. Way to respect a fan.”

Yes, exactly. Clearly his tone was indicative of a disrespect for law enforcement and fans, and in no way affected by annoyance when a grown man makes demands for what should be a treasured keepsake. Real classy, Yohanek.

Yohanek has his own website through MLBLOGS.COM, at which he defends his more-more-more tactics:

…some people choose to sell drugs to kids. Some people choose to abuse drugs, themselves. Some people choose to get all liquored up and drive their vehicles. Some people choose to be abusive to their wives and kids. Some people choose to rob, steal and cheat. Some people take the lives of others.

Some people choose to snag baseballs at the ballpark.

Two things are clear: first, his fanatical devotion to non sequitur references to criminal behavior is completely consistent with someone in the field of law enforcement.

Second, it’s also clear that since he’s standing behind the legality of his behavior as a justification, he’d stop without complaint if, say, the MLB instituted a policy wherein a player is encouraged to offer tickets or other memorabilia, he is not required to do so in exchange for the ball. That or have some minimums in place, maybe a different, signed ball and a game ticket. A simple disclaimer on the back of a ticket ought to take care of that. Would he be so proud of himself if a judge ruled that a fan no longer has the right to set these demands?