Cubs fan defends catching ball while holding baby
Two of the National League's best teams faced off at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, and a fan sitting in the front row stole the show.
Keith Hartley was holding his 7-month-old son Isaac when he made a great barehanded catch over the glove of Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, prompting a replay review. The impressive grab that was quickly passed around Twitter and other social media websites.
Wednesday morning, Hartley was on the talk circuit with Chicago television and radio stations, with more appearances scheduled to take place.
The catch is a hot topic on social media, with a majority calling it a "great catch" and proclaiming him "Dad of the Year" while others say he deserves a "worst Dad" vote for putting his baby in harm's way.
"That was outstanding," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "You worry about the baby, of course. But he looked like he had it under control."
With two out and no one on in the second inning, Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel fouled off a pitch from Zack Greinke. Gonzalez chased the popup and reached over the rolled-up tarp while trying to make a play, but Hartley, of Chicago, grabbed the ball with his right hand while clutching Isaac in his left arm.
"There's two options there. You let the ball hit the barrier, and you have almost zero reaction time to wherever the ball goes, or you make the play and make sure everyone's safe. That's the route I chose," Hartley said in a Wednesday morning interview with WGN Radio.
After the catch, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came out of the dugout and argued for fan interference. While the play was being reviewed, the crowd roared as the sequence was shown again on the ballpark's videoboards.
After a short delay, the call was reversed and Hammel was ruled out, ending the inning. Hammel said it was the play of the night, before switching gears and crediting second baseman Addison Russell for a leaping grab on a liner up the middle.
"It would have been more impressive if the baby would have caught it," Gonzalez deadpanned.
Like Gonzalez, Hartley's wife and child were not so impressed with the foul ball grab, he said.
"(Isaac) didn't miss a beat. You can see in the video he's very focused on the bottle. I don't think he knew much else of what was going on, but he has trust in me, so I've just got to make sure he's safe," Hartley said Wednesday. "(My wife) just shakes her head. She's pretty baffled with the whole situation. It's been a pretty surreal 12 hours."
Hartley said he wasn't sure if he was going to be thrown out, and then referenced one of the most famous foul balls in baseball history. Steve Bartman was cursed by Cubs fans in 2003 after deflecting a foul popup away from Moises Alou with Chicago just five outs away from the World Series. The Cubs went on to make a critical error in that game and also lost the next game to hand the National League championship series to the Florida Marlins.
"I've heard a lot of anti-Bartman talk ... hopefully me making the catch with the baby would be a reverse of the curse," Hartley told WGN.
The same thought occurred to Hammel. "Flashes of Bartman," he said with a grin. "Not near the importance."
Gonzalez said he was glad Hartley was allowed to stay at the game.
"That's why we've got reviews," he said after the Cubs' 1-0 victory in 10 innings. "I don't think fans should get ejected if they don't go on the field. I think they've got every right to stick their hand out. I wouldn't have wanted to see him get thrown out."
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.