Normally, if a fan interferes with a ball while in play during a Major League Baseball game, they’re either removed from the premises or relocated to another part of the stadium. Generally speaking, those who interfere with a ball in play are dubbed overnight sensations for making themselves part of the game, not part of the broadcast.
But ESPN, who was broadcasting Sunday’s Houston Astros-New York Yankees game, had other ideas.
During the sixth inning, Astros slugger Yordan Álavarez lofted a fly ball into foul territory towards the left field bleachers at Minute Maid Park. What happened next would normally result in an ejection, or the fan being escorted to another section, but not this time.
As Yankees left fielder Everson Pereria tried to make the catch, a fan reached over the railing and attempted to grab the baseball barehanded. The ball ricocheted off the fan’s hands into the field of play. It was obvious that impeded Periera’s ability to make the catch and after the umpires convened, they ruled that Pereria would have made the catch, if not for the fan interference, and as a result, Álavarez was ruled out.
As you can see in the clip below from the X (formerly Twitter) account Talkin’ Yanks, that play happened right around 9 p.m. ET.
Umps ended up calling fan interference here for the final out of the inning pic.twitter.com/QminrGRXef
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 4, 2023
Shortly thereafter, ESPN sideline reporter Buster Olney made his way over to said fan and conducted one of the best in-game interviews of a non-player or coach that you’ll see.
All-time fan interview ?? pic.twitter.com/ruvh835k7w
— ESPN (@espn) September 4, 2023
“I’m out here with my son, this is our first-ever game,” the fan said. “We just moved here to Houston literally in January, and I just wanted to make the moment special for him. As a father, I feel like it’s my job to … give him the best moments.
“I apologize to the Astros organization, I didn’t know, y’all gotta understand, when it’s dropping down it looks like it’s coming directly to you. So I reached, and my body went for what I know. But we did have a wonderful moment.”
Olney asked the fan about the reaction from the fellow fans around him.
“The reaction was, shock, disgust, happiness, sweat, a little bit of lust, baby. I was in there feeling kind of hurt for my fingers still, shaking a little bit,” the fan said. “The ball is way heavier with the gravity.
He was escorted away by Astros security, who questioned him about the incident, but they mainly wanted to see that he had not been injured in his attempt to make a special moment for his son’s first game. He was able to go back to his seat thereafter. And able to discuss the viral moment with Olney.
“Truthfully, Houston loves me and I love Houston. They cannot stop me from supporting the asteroids … Salute to the whole organization, great staff, they made sure that I was healthy and I was enjoying the game, they wasn’t even making it serious.”
More moments like these will certainly go a long way for Sunday Night Baseball, but it’ll be hard to recreate this level of authenticity.