September 22, 2011
Lopez's grab wasn't terribly special by itself; he just picked up the ball before somebody else did — though it was amusing to see a man we'd later learn to be his father, Raul Lopez, protecting his son from the crowd during the mad scramble for a valuable souvenir. The really special part, of course, came later.
Well, as it turns out semi-unbelievably, the father made an even better defensive play Thursday night by snagging a foul ball that, frankly, won't have the same resale value as Jeter's 3,000th.
In the second inning, Sean Rodriguez(notes) of the Tampa Bay Rays lined a pitch into those good seats Christian Lopez received as part of his reward for returning Jeter's ball. A bespectacled Raul Lopez — wearing a Mizuno baseball glove and a Lou Gehrig No. 4 shirsey — reached as far forward and as far to the left as he could to snare the ball.
The 55-year-old came close to tipping over into the next row of people — which would have been obnoxious — but he regained his balance, got to his feet and began a celebration akin to an end zone dance. He was happy with himself, and understandably so.
If Raul Lopez goes all of the way over the seats and smushes the folks in front of him, well, he's gone too far. But he didn't. He pulled himself back from the abyss and maintained at least 75 percent of his dignity.
Meanwhile, two seats over, Christian Lopez erupted with laughter. The hits just keep on coming for this guy.
Before the Yankees announcers realized whose father it was, YES analyst John Flaherty opined:
"Aren't you supposed to act like you've done it before?"
Is he referring to Cell Phone Ranger?! Besides, did Flaherty ever try catching with a mitt?
Play-by-play man Michael Kay was smitten with the catch from the start, calling it "extraordinary." And while I seethe whenever Kay says Alex "rah-DREE-guss" instead of pronouncing it like a normal human, and, even though a postgame meet and greet with Rodriguez wasn't necessary, I have to agree on the catch itself.
It's neat that Lopez's father gets rewarded, too. Good seats for all of the games, including a good spot for a foul ball on the night they clinch the AL East.
All because he raised a good boy, apparently.