Up until this point, The Stew's plays of the year poll has shown love exclusively to the big leaguers, but right now we want to salute the fans. Specifically, the fans who risk injury and embarrassment (and sometimes even more than that) to wow the crowd and take home a souvenir. It's time for best fan catches.
Many of us just hope to catch a foul ball one day. Our four finalists did it in fantastic fashion this season — above and beyond just making a catch, but making a highlight reel too. Which is the most impressive? That's for you to decide.
Head over to the Big League Stew Facebook page and vote for your favorite. But first, watch them all again, in chronological order:
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1. Barehanded and holding a baby
From April 6: "Under any circumstances it would be viewed as a great play by a fan. But consider this ball was flat out stung by Werth and still had to be traveling at a pretty good pace. Now factor in that our fan was not wearing a glove, so this is a clean bare-handed catch. And then understand that he is clutching a young child in his right arm, making it a one-handed, bare-handed catch of a very well hit baseball."
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2. Catches foul ball in cup of beer, chugs it
From April 11: "Stylistically, the man who uses his cup of beer to catch a foul ball by Seattle's Justin Smoak and then chugs the beer like he's completing some sort of ballpark drinking game is in a league of his own. Mmm — barley, hops, cowhide. Am I tasting seams?"
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3. Tumbling over the seats
From June 30: "The great grab happened in the top of the fourth inning when Kansas City Royals slugger Billy Butler hit a high popup into foul territory that drifted about six rows behind the first base dugout. It was there that a fan equipped with a glove (I always encourage this) and a Royals cap (this is a little more risky in enemy territory) camped underneath it. That was the easy part. The difficult part was concentrating on making the catch and then holding on to the ball despite taking a pretty hard tumble straight backwards over his seat. Incredibly, he was able to do both, which drew a huge applause from the respectful Minnesota Twins fans."
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4. Great-grandmother catches ball, gets lot of hugs
From Sept. 11: "Longtime San Francisco Giants fan Virginia Smith said she had brought her glove to every game she ever attended, hoping to catch a ball some day. After playing softball for 39 years, she certainly was practiced enough. Well, at long last, Smith — a grandmother of 16 and a great grandmother of 15 — finally made it happen Tuesday night. Todd Helton's foul ball actually crashed a birthday party (though it also looked like Mardi Gras, or Halfway to St. Patrick's Day), in the upper deck at AT&T Park. Smith, a white-haired woman wearing a fanny pack, caught the ball with her trusty glove — adorned with a green ribbon for "luck of the Irish" — after Helton fouled off a pitch by Sergio Romo in the ninth inning. Covered in a Giants fleece, wearing a pair of deely bobbers on her head and holding another pair in her right hand — take it easy, ma'am — Smith reached out and saved her granddaughter from certain doom by making a clean and easy catch."
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NOW ... VOTE!
You decide which of these wonderful fan catches was the best of 2013. Head over to the Big League Stew Facebook page and cast your vote.
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