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.
When going to a baseball game, DON'T be this guy. pic.twitter.com/pAeiRN6Q2X
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 22, 2018
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.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 22, 2018
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:
Pretty low to take a ball from a KID. It was meant for the kid and he would have told stories to all his friend. The guy and whatever he gave it to. . . . HOW can anyone be happy with themselves for doing that.
— Lostways27 (@Lostways27) July 22, 2018
She's as bad as he is. What an embarrassment they both are. Great job by the @Cubs to resolve it the right way. Hopefully, that guy gets outed and ridiculed.
— Mike W (@HansonBrothers9) July 22, 2018
As we like to say in Chicago, what a jag off. #karma
— Ladi Dadi (@ladidadi99) July 23, 2018
I hate when adults do stuff like that. I don’t care if it’s your first ball ever. That guy and his wife/girlfriend/mistress/whatever should know better. I’m glad Javy Baez and the Cubs came through for the kid.
— Eddie (@pumpkinsocks) July 22, 2018
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.”
He had already helped that kid get a ball. He gave two more away to kids also. He was a great guy. TV got this all wrong.
— Chuck Mycoff (@cmycoff2) July 22, 2018
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:
I was sitting the next to the boy and the same fan helped him snag a ball a few innings before this.
— Jeff Rose, CFP® (@jjeffrose) July 23, 2018
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:
The other ball the kid has was the one the same guy caught and gave him before this. I was sitting next to him.
— Chuck Mycoff (@cmycoff2) July 22, 2018
If you’re still skeptical, the updated version of this story was confirmed by local sportscaster David Kaplan:
I spoke with people from the Cubs. The man who grabbed the ball on the widely seen video had actually already helped the little boy get a ball earlier. The young man has a game used ball and a Javy Baez ball. All is well. Guy is A-OK so let it go people.
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) July 23, 2018
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