Sports is all about competition, but that spirit apparently extends to the fans as well as the players. That’s what Ryan Baker discovered when he chased down a foul ball recently at the Chicago White Sox’s stadium, only to have it snatched away by an adult woman.
The 15-year-old seemed shocked when the woman snatched the ball from him, throwing up his hands in shock while she walked away clutching the ball to her chest like a beloved family heirloom.
Later, speaking to the local press, Ryan said that the woman wanted the ball because it almost hit her. In the clip, which you can watch below, Ryan seems to offer her the ball, but she pries it from his fingers. Rather than making a scene, Ryan rejoined his mother in his seat. He was willing to accept that he’d be going home empty handed, but then a stranger approached him.
Brooks Boyer, the executive vice president for sales and marketing for the White Sox, felt for the young man and personally delivered a game ball to him signed by booth announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone. But it didn’t stop there.
Ryan and his family were invited back to the stadium to watch another game from prime seats right behind home plate. Ryan and his family were also allowed on the field, where he talked with players and watched batting practice up-close. The players he met, also signed baseballs for him. He even got to visit the broadcaster’s booth during the game.
Speaking to WGN Chicago, Ryan and his family expressed their gratitude to the organization for the extra attention from the team and their graciousness to them.
“Everyone just said I was such a gentleman about the whole thing. And I think that’s really good [because] it makes makes me look good and my parents [as well].”
At 15, Ryan had a biological excuse to have reacted angrily to the woman who took the foul ball, but this young man holds no grudges or ill will towards her. Of course, it probably helps that the White Sox treated him like a VIP guest as a result of all the attention.
As for the woman who took the ball from him, the White Sox doesn’t approve of what she did but they aren’t trying to make her a villain either. Instead, as one of the announcers told WGN, it just shows how much passion there is among the fans of the team, and how desperately they want a one-of-a-kind keepsake like the game ball. Still, taking it from a kid was not the best way to show that passion.
Sports is about competition, but it’s also about sportsmanship. These athletes, and their fans, want to win, but it’s how you win that’s just as important. While the unidentified woman may have won the race to take home that foul ball, Ryan’s poise and patience is an example of how what seems like a “loss” in the short-term can turn into the best kind of victory.
Watch the footage below to see the incident for yourself!