Caught On Tape

Couple who seemingly stole a baseball from a child at Wrigley Field get internet shamed

This story has been updated, 7/23/18, 8:38 am PST

When I first came across this video of a guy who looked to be triumphantly stealing joy from a child, I wanted him to be shamed. The article I wrote about the incident didn’t hold back. Turns out, maybe I should have.

In a viral video from a Cubs game this Sunday at Wrigley Field, first base coach Will Venable tossed a ball to a little boy seated in the first row. The boy failed to catch the toss, and it bounced under his seat into the hands of a middle-aged man seated directly behind him, who then promptly scooped up the ball and handed it to a female companion.

It looked bad. It made my blood boil. The man clapped his hands and smiled while the boy and his guardian (assumed to be his grandmother) looked on in what seemed to be disappointment.

Outrage ensued as the clip circulated social media. Even the Cubs took notice and stepped up to right what so many thought was a boy who’d been wronged.

The kid, who so far remains unidentified, got a gift of two official baseballs, one which was autographed by infielder Javy Baez.

One person who saw the video told me that he thought there’s a possibility of a rush to judgement, but I didn’t buy it. It was clear to me that the ball was intended for the kid and the guy snatched it away like a jerk. Most people on social media agreed with me:

Now it looks like I, along with a lot of other people, got this story wrong. According to various sources, the man and his companion didn’t deserve the internet shaming they received after all.

Deadspin reports that the man is actually “a good guy who does not deserve this at all, and indeed gave away every ball he got—including, earlier, one to that very same child.”

In the wake the video going viral, Reddit user btbrian found some accounts of people who were sitting near the couple when the incident took place.

Chuck Mycoff is the man dressed in blue sitting directly to the man’s left. In a tweet from later that afternoon, he said that the “TV got this all wrong.”

Jeff Rose, who is reportedly the man in the red shirt immediately to the right of the kid and his guardian, echoed Chuck’s version of the story:

There’s another detail that makes this story entirely different from how it was first reported. One of the balls the kid is seen holding in the Chicago Cub’s Twitter photo was apparently given to him by the man in question, according to Chuck:

If you’re still skeptical, the updated version of this story was confirmed by local sportscaster David Kaplan:

Bottom line, the kid seems happy either way, so that’s the most important thing. Hopefully the truth behind this story will slow down the misdirected outrage at the guy. My apologies to him.

[The title and text of this story have been updated to reflect the facts as we now know them] Featured image via screen grab

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