There's a contingent of baseball fans who believe no adult should bring a glove to a game. To properly catch a foul ball or homer, one must use his or her hands. Gloves are for kids.
You can agree or disagree with that philosophy, but you can't disagree with this: Greg Van Niel — and his glove — had themselves a day for the ages Sunday at Progressive Field, where the hometown Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-4.
He hauled in four foul balls, an odds defying stroke of luck that Van Neil — an Indians season ticket holder who had never caught a foul ball at Progressive Field before — seems to shrug off as chance. Records aren't kept on such things, but have you ever heard of catching four foul balls in one game? Consider it a win for glover-wearers everywhere.
Van Neil told MLB.com's Cut4 blog:
“Three of them were catches and one was a ball I picked up off the ground,” said Van Niel. “The third one, I think was the hardest one … I ended up sprawled across a few rows, and I got some cheese on myself. But the other ones were just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
By the fourth ball, seen in the video above, Van Niel was so amazed he just tossed the ball away to another fan. What a generous guy.
Maybe Van Niel missed his true calling. There are people who are ballhawks — "professional" home run and foul ball catchers. In that universe, Van Niel's haul shall henceforth be a thing of legend.
Ideal Seat — which tracks foul ball landing info — estimates that the odds of catching four foul balls in one game is roughly one trillion to one. One trillion to one! A little bit of perspective on that: In a $250 million Powerball jackpot last year, the odds of winning were estimated at one in 175 million.
Sounds like Van Niel had a lifetime's worth of good luck on Sunday. But do you think he wished he bought a lottery ticket instead?