CHICAGO — 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 when he made a great barehanded catch over the glove of Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, prompting a replay review with an impressive grab that was quickly passed around Twitter and other social media websites.
“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 none 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 carrying Isaac in his left arm.
“I was just feeding him and I saw the ball coming our way and held on to him and made sure I protected him and I stood up and it kind of just fell in my hand,” Hartley said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly then 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 ballpark’s new 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.
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.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be like a Bartman-type situation,” Hartley said. “Some of my friends texted me, ‘You’re the anti-Bartman.’ I said no, it’s kind of the same situation.
“Luckily the Cubs security talked to me and gave me a stern warning.”
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.”